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A few years ago, when I traveled backpacking through the Moroccan desert, my companion experienced a tragic case of diarrhea that seemed to be stuffed into a mule’s back. My tentmate and I had similar symptoms, victims of loose hygiene, and dangerous behavior. A few days ago, a local guide bought sheep and cooked them for dinner. This may have led to subsequent misery.

We weren’t the first to make a round trip between the tent and the cathole. The backpack is long enough that you won’t experience backcountry diarrhea yourself.Recent Studies on Backpackers in California John Muir Trail It was found that 16% experienced diarrhea while traveling, but in most cases it was characterized as minimal or mild.Early work on long-range backpackers above Appalachian trail It was discovered that a whopping 56 percent reported diarrhea at some point during their trip.

Despite widespread fear of parasites like GiardiaCommon bacteria like, E. coli Causes most infections on the trail. The source is frequently contaminated drinking water, or human-to-human transmission via the fecal-oral route (think less attractive phrases).

The good news here is that backpackers can reduce their risk. Cleanliness issues: Proper water disinfection, hand hygiene, and thorough cleaning of utensils reduce the risk of diarrhea. If soap and water are not easily accessible, alcohol-based hand sanitizers clearly reduce the risk of infection.

Most infectious diarrhea has a short course without antibiotics or other medications, and mild cases cause discomfort beyond serious medical conditions. In the field, important treatment mainly means hydration. It can be difficult to compensate for a decrease in fluid volume in a patient who is already dehydrated.Water, or commercial or improvised Rehydration solution Works best (one option is a powdered sports drink reconstituted at half strength). And slow, continuous hydration is more often successful than trying to stir something in a liter. Antidiarrheals can be useful in the short term, and drugs containing bismuth (ie, pept) can actually help treat infections.

Travelers’ diarrhea that lasts for more than a few weeks can be the result of a new infection, previously undiagnosed gastrointestinal problems, or sometimes a newly caused irritable bowel syndrome.Parasites like Giardia The incubation period is 1-2 weeks. This means that symptoms may begin after the trip is over. Fever or bloody stools are a precursor to more concerned sources of infection that may require further testing or antibiotics.

When one of your groups gets sick, your health (or at least your comfort and dignity) depends on prevention. Avoid campsites becoming holes for infectious diseases by paying close attention to infection control. Hand sanitizers, properly treated water, separate utensils and utensils, and even different toilet areas for sick companions may prevent your entire group from getting stuck behind the mule. Hmm.

Christopher Tedeschi I teach and write about wilderness and disaster medicine. He is an associate professor of emergency medicine at Columbia University and an editorial board member of the journal Wilderness and Environmental Medicine. He enjoys hiking and cycling near his home in the lower Hudson Valley.