Almost everyone that drinks backcountry water knows there are microscopic organisms in untreated water that can make people ill. Unfortunately, there is lack of agreement about how common the problem is, or what people should do about it. There are three general classifications of disease-causing microorganisms in backcountry water. From largest to smallest, they are: Protozoa, Bacteria and Viruses. Very few of these microorganisms naturally occur in outdoor water, they instead are primarily introduced into the water from animal and human feces.
It is not unusual to see articles in outdoor magazines that combine correct information with incorrect instruction about how to deal with backcountry drinking water. The problem here is: outdoor magazine editors don’t have to have science degrees, and the writers submitting articles are generally only partly informed about microorganisms in water and accurate methods for safe removal of these pathogens…read more