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  1. #1
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    Default Used a filter and still got sick?

    I was wondering if anyone had ever used a filter and still got sick from the water.

  2. #2
    Registered User Moose2001's Avatar
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    The majority of people that get sick don't get it from the water. Most hikers get sick because of poor hygiene and sanitation habits.
    GA - NJ 2001; GA - ME 2003; GA - ME 2005; GA - ME 2007; PCT 2006

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    And from other sick people and just plain old bad luck - like anywhere else.

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    Registered User Lyle's Avatar
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    While I tend to believe the same as those who posted above, I'm not sure it's really cut and dried. I doubt any real studies have been done.

    One other area that I "believe" probably contributes to sickness from water is those who do not handle and store their filters properly, and thus cross-contaminate. It is fairly difficult to actually do this properly. Most will say that they take proper care to avoid the cross-contamination, but this is not borne out by the observations I have made.

    This is one of the reasons I choose to use Aqua Mira - it's easier to assure proper technique, besides it's much more compact and lighter.

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lyle View Post
    While I tend to believe the same as those who posted above, I'm not sure it's really cut and dried. I doubt any real studies have been done.

    One other area that I "believe" probably contributes to sickness from water is those who do not handle and store their filters properly, and thus cross-contaminate. It is fairly difficult to actually do this properly. Most will say that they take proper care to avoid the cross-contamination, but this is not borne out by the observations I have made.

    This is one of the reasons I choose to use Aqua Mira - it's easier to assure proper technique, besides it's much more compact and lighter.
    Most definitely. I got sick after drinking water that was filtered by a friend--after I realized it wasn't water we'd filter in our filter, I knew why I got sick. Their filter is stored without cleaning it and I believe more nasty things were in the filter than in the water itself.

    I use a steripen and Aqua Mira if needed.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Moose2001 View Post
    The majority of people that get sick don't get it from the water. Most hikers get sick because of poor hygiene and sanitation habits.
    That's so true....... Better to resist the urge to "reach in and grab" when the gorp bag gets passed around.

  7. #7

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    I used bleach on my water on my thru, and almost never washed my hands. I never got sick. I almost never wash my hands at home either, probably one of the reasons I have such a strong immune system. I think the last time I had the flu was 3 or 4 years ago.

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    NOBO toBennington, VT plus 187 mi in MH & ME
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    LYLE
    There was a study done that I read a few years ago. I'm sorry, but I don't have the link.

    The author polled a large number of thru-hikers about filtering and gastro-intestinal sickness and personal hygiene.

    The results indicated that personal hygiene was the big common factor

    The "always filter" and the "never filter" had no statistical difference in the frequency of illness.

    Just saying.
    Grinder
    AT hiker : It's the journey, not the destination

  9. #9
    LT '79; AT '73-'14 in sections; Donating Member Kerosene's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lyle View Post
    One other area that I "believe" probably contributes to sickness from water is those who do not handle and store their filters properly, and thus cross-contaminate. It is fairly difficult to actually do this properly.
    This is the primary reason why I no longer filter. Secondary reasons are clogging and weight. Aqua Mira works fine for me, especially if I pair it with a basic pre-filter setup.
    GA←↕→ME: 1973 to 2014

  10. #10

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    There have been other articles about this, but here's one http://www.whiteblaze.net/forum/showthread.php?t=54146

    And his follow up.

    http://www.whiteblaze.net/forum/showthread.php?t=54146


    I don't filter and I've drank water from some really questionable sources.

    I've only been sick once, but not sure if it was the water, but don't care my immune system is much stronger now. I'm ready for the apocalypse

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Grinder View Post
    LYLE
    There was a study done that I read a few years ago. I'm sorry, but I don't have the link.

    The author polled a large number of thru-hikers about filtering and gastro-intestinal sickness and personal hygiene.

    The results indicated that personal hygiene was the big common factor

    The "always filter" and the "never filter" had no statistical difference in the frequency of illness.

    Just saying.
    You're probably thinking of Roland Mueser's book "Long - Distance Hiking, Lessons from the Appalachian Trail" written in 1998. He dedicates an entire chapter to water purification methods and water borne illnesses. He sites studies that show that 3 to 4 percent of the general population carry Giardia lamblia and considered sharing food and drink the main source of infection.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Spokes View Post
    That's so true....... Better to resist the urge to "reach in and grab" when the gorp bag gets passed around.
    Yep, I don't even touch my own gorp with my bare hands.

  13. #13
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    Excellent posts above regarding hygiene and sharing food. Since I stopped treating all my water (still carry AquaMira in cattle country), I'm hiking farther and healthier than ever. I believe I hydrate better (drink more and more often) when I don't throw chemicals in the water or when I don't have to work at pumping it. There's nothing like coming across a clean spring and drinking a liter on the fly with barely a stop. I tend to carry much less water, too, when I don't treat it, so my pack is lighter and there's less wear and tear on me and my gear.

    By the way and this is anecdotal, the last five seasons I've hiked without treating water, the only times I've gotten sick is when I get back to town. I attribute it to door handles, backs of chairs and bus seats, shaking hands with old friends, coughing sick people, etc.

    As far as carrying a filter, I heard good but gross advice once. If you believe the water is contaminated, you should treat is as hazardous material. Picture dirty toilet water. That way, you will not cross-contaminate your tubing, you'll wash your hands well after getting them wet, etc.
    "Throw a loaf of bread and a pound of tea in an old sack and jump over the back fence." John Muir on expedition planning

  14. #14

    Default Giardia happens

    Quote Originally Posted by Grinder View Post
    The "always filter" and the "never filter" had no statistical difference in the frequency of illness. Just saying.
    I'm sure that hygiene is a huge factor, but . . . You don't get giardia from hygiene but from contaminated water. Personally know a number of people who got infected with Giardia on the AT, after drinking untreated water from "springs". No fun. It's so easy to bring Aqua Mira and use it - why not? If you are in a big hurry to drink water right now, treat water right now with a SteriPen and use Aqua Mira in camp or overnight.
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  15. #15
    ME => GA 19AT3 rickb's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by QiWiz View Post
    You don't get giardia from hygiene but from contaminated water.
    Here is a link from the CDC that identifies other vectors:

    http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dpd/parasi...m#transmission

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    Quote Originally Posted by gumball View Post
    Their filter is stored without cleaning it and I believe more nasty things were in the filter than in the water itself.
    But wouldn't the nasty things in the filter get filtered...?
    Wilderness is not a luxury but a necessity of the human spirit, and as vital to our lives as water and good bread.
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  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Luddite View Post
    But wouldn't the nasty things in the filter get filtered...?
    It's a matter of cross-contamination. Something as seemingly innocent as storing your grey water hose in the same bag with with your clean-water hose.

    Personally, I think it doesn't make enough difference to bother but to each his own.
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  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Moose2001 View Post
    The majority of people that get sick don't get it from the water. Most hikers get sick because of poor hygiene and sanitation habits.
    My hiking partner got giardia from a contaminated stream. I treated, he didn't. He became horribly ill, I didn't.

    We still selectively treat and have never been sick otherwise.

  19. #19
    Registered User Egads's Avatar
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    Filters suck. Way too easy to contaminate. Too bulky. I treat with Aquamira
    The trail was here before we arrived, and it will still be here when we are gone...enjoy it now, and preserve it for others that come after us

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    Quote Originally Posted by Skidsteer View Post
    It's a matter of cross-contamination. Something as seemingly innocent as storing your grey water hose in the same bag with with your clean-water hose.

    Personally, I think it doesn't make enough difference to bother but to each his own.
    That's definitely a possibility. I try to shake out my filter and then I store it, the clean hose and water bag adapter in a ziplock. It's still possible to get some contamination, but filters and chemicals are about mitigating risk, not eliminating it entirely. By using a filter and storing it carefully, adding bleach and using good hygiene practices I believe my risk is fairly low.

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