Apr 23, 2012 at 9:28 am #1289060
Ok Community. I need some feedback. I came down with Giardia the first week of March and did not realize that's what it was until about a week ago when I had the stool test done. What a surprise to me! I have been backpacking for more than 35 years and have never once had a case of Giardia. I am extremely careful to treat my water with the Cholrine Dioxide pills and to boil my cooking water. The stream from which I got it(apparently) has always been a source of fast running water. When my wife told her sister about my experience,her sister told her that both of her dogs had gotten it too and that the Vet told her that he has seen an explosion of Giardia in animals. Later I found the same response from another Vet we know, locally.
Anyone haver annecdotal evidence of an upswing in the Giardia in their area? Any comments of this uptick in contamination? My wife's sister lives in Marin above San Francisco and we live in Orange County Ca which is Southern CA. ALso called a friend who lives out in Riverside and owns a horse ranch. She says her Vet said the same thing.Apr 23, 2012 at 9:35 am #1870185
@amrowincLocale: Southern California
Like you Mitchell, I've never been infected with Giardia and I rarely treat my water. Where was the stream you think was the source? I backpack in So. Calif. so I have a vested interest.Apr 23, 2012 at 9:42 am #1870188
Studies have shown backcountry water sources (specifically ones we consider good) carry only a small portion of our giardia risk. Washing your hands (or, more precisely, the other members of your backcountry party washing their hands) mitigates a risk significantly more hazardous.
You're more likely to get giardia from your YMCA swimming pool than safe backcountry streams (i.e. as you described).
Many more risk factors involved. Likely not water contaminants.Apr 23, 2012 at 9:52 am #1870193
As Don stated above, any further details you can provide will be helpful for us that backpack around the SoCal area.Apr 23, 2012 at 10:55 am #1870210
Here's another SoCal hiker who would like to know which creek you got giardia from!Apr 23, 2012 at 11:52 am #1870233
Got it in the stream which runs through DeVore Camp out of Chantry Flats. This stream is known as the West Fork of the San Gabriel River. It is at the Juncture of the Newcomb Pass trail and the Gabrielleno Trail from Red Box.
Wanted to add some info:
I always hike alone. I always treat my drinking water and boil my cooking water. I also use bleach to treat my wash water and wash my hands in this solution. I usually wash my face and pits using stream water when I get into camp. I have hiked this trail and stayed at this site dozens of times over the years and never had any problems with the water. But as I found out, just a few cysts can get you and then they bred explosively in you gut. Look up the symptoms using google. I really didn't believe I had it for weeks until the doc and my wife convinced me to get the stool test (not fun). the cure is quick with a twice a day for 7 days dosage of antibiotics.
NEVER drink untreated water, period.Apr 23, 2012 at 11:59 am #1870235
Good to know. I frequent this area with my kids, I may need to up my water treatment systems. However, I am surprised that boiling water wasn't sufficient enough.
Might I ask what prompted you to get checked for Giardia? Or was this just something the Doc just found when performing his tests?
In any case, thanks for the information.Apr 23, 2012 at 12:23 pm #1870242
I have wracked my brain looking for a vector and the only thing I can come up with is that I must have gotten some in my nose or mouth washing my face with untreated stream water. It only takes a couple of cysts to do the job.
My symptoms were interesting:
I went to bed one evening and felt fine. When I got up the next morning I really felt as if I had a case of the flu. Aching muscles, nausea, rumbling flatulence in my gut, bloating but no fever. For weeks I had this nausea and flatuence with bloating. Very soft and loose stool which smelled terrible. I lost my appetite and lost 10 lbs over the month I have had this. Only once did I have explosive and watery diareaha and vomiting. I even went through a week when I felt fine and thought I was out of the woods with whatever I had had. then I relapsed for about a week and that is when I saw the doc about it and said "sounds like giardia to me".Apr 23, 2012 at 1:15 pm #1870258
Wow! It's a good thing you're out of the woods now so to speak.
I may have to just take a little more precaution with the water especially when I have my kids along. Thanks again for the information.Apr 23, 2012 at 1:40 pm #1870269
"the cure is quick with a twice a day for 7 days dosage of antibiotics."
That is interesting, because antibiotics generally treat bacterial infections. If you want to treat Giardia, you need to use an anti-parasite drug such as Flagyl.
–B.G.–Apr 23, 2012 at 1:51 pm #1870276
@justin_bakerLocale: Santa Rosa, CA
I remember an episode of survivorman where Les warned the audience that you can get giardia by getting the water in your eyes or nose. That's probably what happened here.Apr 23, 2012 at 2:57 pm #1870311
@rcaffinLocale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
> the cure is quick with a twice a day for 7 days dosage of antibiotics.
I don't know what the doctor gave you, but I an fairly sure antibiotics cannot cure a Giardia parasite (protozoan) infection.
The normal treatment is one dose of Flagyl. The cure often feels worse than the infection.
But I see that Flagyl is an antibiotic. My mistake.Apr 23, 2012 at 3:36 pm #1870327
"The normal treatment is one dose of Flagyl."
In North America, one course of Flagyl is normally spread over 4-5 days. In an emergency situation, that same amount can be administered within a single day, but the patient may regret it.
–B.G.–Apr 23, 2012 at 4:34 pm #1870363
@bagboyLocale: Palmdale, CA
Flagyl IS an antibiotic. It's used for both bacteria and parasites.
On a slightly different note, using alcohol-based hand sanitizers is not effective against spores (crypto, giardia, C. diff, etc.) In fact, hospitals are seeing more and more clostridium difficile (C. diff) infections that cause a wicked nasty diarrhea and even sometimes lead to surgical removal of the large intestines in some really sick folks (mostly elderly). It's a nasty little spore, and hospital infection control protocols call for hand washing as the only effective means of getting the crap off your hands. They specifically note that hand sanitizers will not work on the spores. Frustrating stuff!!!!Apr 23, 2012 at 4:37 pm #1870366
@ouzelLocale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
""The normal treatment is one dose of Flagyl."
In North America, one course of Flagyl is normally spread over 4-5 days. In an emergency situation, that same amount can be administered within a single day, but the patient may regret it."
Either way, the only treatment I have ever heard of for Giardia or Amoebic Dysentery is Flagyl or a slightly different version called Tindamax(tinidazole). The interesting thing is that both are classified as antibiotics because they are used to treat certain bacterial infections as well as for parasites.Apr 23, 2012 at 6:02 pm #1870404
@hikinggrannyLocale: Gateway to Columbia River Gorge
My dog got giardiasis last September–he almost literally exploded over most of the car! We drove the rest of the way with all windows down and stopping every 20 minutes to let him out for more explosions. It was lots of "fun" cleaning that up! I never realized there were so many nooks and crannies in a compact station wagon! Needless to say, I wore rubber gloves and used lots of Lysol. A good argument for filtering the dog's water, which at least considerably reduces the amount he laps up from lakes and streams.
He had two more episodes in the following weeks, but fortunately was able to get outside before exploding. The vet prescribed Flagyl, which seems to have done its job.Apr 23, 2012 at 7:11 pm #1870430
@rcaffinLocale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
> In North America, one course of Flagyl is normally spread over 4-5 days.
Over 4-5 days? You guys are wimps! :-)
> In an emergency situation, that same amount can be administered within a single day,
> but the patient may regret it.
Oh, trust me, you DO regret it!
CheersApr 23, 2012 at 7:24 pm #1870436
While trekking in Nepal, one woman was showing sudden and severe symptoms one day, and she was diagnosed and treated by two western doctors. They gave her options for a 4-5 day course, followed by an additional rest day, or else a sudden course with all of that compressed into 24 hours. She took the latter, but she was as weak as a kitten afterward.
–B.G.–Apr 23, 2012 at 8:01 pm #1870457
@richardglyonLocale: Bridger Mountains
Giardia has been accurately described as the dead-body disease. Whether treated or not (I've never been afflicted, but good friends have) half the time you think you are afraid you will die, and half the time you are afraid you won't. Treatment or no, it's chronic – it'll come back periodically, though Flagyl sometimes (but not always) will prevent recurrences. Good reasons to filter and treat (manufacturer's recommended strength – no dilution) with chlorine dioxide all – repeat all – backcountry water. However unlikely it is you'll contract giardia, the consequences of getting it are so severe that it's worth every precaution to prevent it.Apr 24, 2012 at 6:53 am #1870550
@retiredjerryLocale: Oregon and Washington
"Good reasons to filter and treat"
Yet in this case he did filter and treat but got it anywayApr 24, 2012 at 6:59 am #1870555
"The interesting thing is that both are classified as antibiotics because they are used to treat certain bacterial infections as well as for parasites."
It is also used to treat "Hole in the Head" disease in fish. Would it work for humans??????Apr 24, 2012 at 7:21 am #1870562
"That is interesting, because antibiotics generally treat bacterial infections. If you want to treat Giardia, you need to use an anti-parasite drug such as Flagyl."
Antibiotic is a general pharmaceutical term that include antibacterial, antiviral, anti-parasitic and anti-fungal medications. In lay terms it has become most associated with antibacterials. Metronidazole (Flagyl) has uses for against both certain bacteria and certain parasties, as previously mentioned.
Cure rates for Giardia are currently listed at ~80% with antibiotics. Even without treatment many people improve on their own, though a typical course of giardia is 3-5 weeks. Fun…Apr 24, 2012 at 8:56 am #1870588
Inaki Diaz de EturaParticipant
@inaki-1Locale: Iberia highlands
If Giardiasis is so unlikely but at the same time the most meticulous water treatment seems to be no guarantee it seems a logical conclusion would be that treating is pointless. It would seem the defining factor is the presence of the stuff, not what we do to the water.
I mean, honestly, if treatment didn't work I can't see how the conclusion can be "always treat your water". Sounds quite bold. It seems clear there are other factors at play and we don't know which they are.Apr 24, 2012 at 8:59 am #1870589
@williamlawLocale: SF Bay Area
Sorry for your illness.
Can you elaborate on the timing of your exposure to the suspect water and the onset of symptoms?Apr 24, 2012 at 9:13 am #1870597
I saw something on another site referring to bleach not being effective against Giardia cysts, though chlorine dioxide treatments are. So perhaps it is your washup technique that got you infected with some cysts.
My sympathies – I contracted Giardia in Nepal long ago (most likely from food though I did once accidentally moisten my toothbrush from tap water) and did feel like I wanted to die at times. I kept thinking it was something else (altitude nausea) but finally took the 1-time dose of tinidazole (what they dispense there for it) and started feeling better within 24 hours. My partner, after 2 trips in Nepal each with a Giardia affliction, as well as a U.S. contracted case, is now dubiously blessed with the ability to diagnose by the smell of the farts (he once told a co-worker to go get stool tested, and turned out to have correctly identified Giardia).
Needless to say, we both treat our water.
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