By 1LT Chris Post
So your initial zombie survival plan was a success and you’ve gone into hiding in a remote area of the wilderness. Not far from your cabin is a clear lake that looks as though it has never been touched by human hands. You enjoy a cool, refreshing drink. Then you die.
No, it wasn’t a zombie hiding in the water. It was something much smaller, but just as lethal.
Everyone knows that it’s a bad idea to drink untreated water in an urban environment, but what many fail to realize is that it is equally risky to drink water from apparently pristine wilderness locations.
Why? The simple answer is protozoa. If you had a high school biology class you might remember watching these little guys through a microscope as they swam around in a drop of scummy pond water. The fact is they can live in clear water too.
There are a number of kinds of protozoa, but there are several in particular that do nasty things to people.
If ingested, cryptosporidium and giardia lamblia can cause diarrhea, vomiting and cramps. If you aren’t able to treat these symptoms, you will rapidly dehydrate and die. What’s worse, protozoan contamination is transmitted through human and animal fecal matter, so if you’ve got diarrhea you are likely contaminating your area with more of the little creatures.
Even more frightening is the fact that chemical treatment with iodine and chlorine has only limited effect on removing protozoa from the water. Your best bet is to filter your water and then boil it.