Wilderness medicine Twitter has been blowing up today about an ill-advised post Slate put out. Slate argues that backpackers don’t have to filter their drinking water prior to consumption after all, but that clean, fresh water should be safe in its natural form.
There’s only one problem with this; its not true. As has been pointed out by multiple experts on twitter at this point, there is no debate among doctors and those who study water-borne illness that water SHOULD ABSOLUTELY be filtered, boiled, or otherwise disinfected prior to consumption. Frankly, to argue the contrary against the advice of those who have spent their professional lives studying this is at very least disingenuous, and could be construed as reckless.
Now, there are many forms of water-borne illness. It isn’t my intent to get into all of them today. The best known is being infected by Giardia lamblia, a parasite. The biggest symptom is diarrhea, hence the title of this post.
So, I could spend hours writing out the signs and symptoms of Giardia. Or, I could let you hear from an actual patient. And that’s what I’m going to do.
So, Slate Magazine, is this really what you’re advocating for?
On a more medical note, here is Dr. Howard Donner speaking about the signs and symptoms of Giardia. I highly recommend his channel!