- Associated Press - Monday, September 14, 2015

FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) - Alaska health officials are warning residents to be wary of mountain stream water as September usually sees an increased number of giardiasis infections, sometimes called “beaver fever.”

About 90 people in the state each year have laboratory-confirmed infections from the giardia protozoa, but health officials say the actual number of infections is much larger because few cases get laboratory-confirmed, according to the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner (https://bit.ly/1QzGHXc ).

“We rarely get a cluster or an outbreak,” said Ginger Provo, a state nurse epidemiologist who studies the spread of giardiasis and other diseases in Alaska. “We don’t have the capacity to link cases together unless they (the patients) are known to travel together or camp together.”

Provo said the September spike comes when more people are out in the backcountry for hunting season. The gastrointestinal illness is most commonly contracted in the state from drinking untreated water.

Symptoms from the illness include abdominal cramps, bloating and frequent, loose stool.



According to Centers for Disease Control data, Alaska is considered one of the most common states for giardia infections, with Vermont, Massachusetts, Maine and South Dakota seeing similar rates.

Water from mountain streams should be treated by boiling, using a filter or an ultra violet light sterilizer. Like most things, Provo said cleaning your hands is also a priority.

“Hand washing is the cornerstone of public health,” Provo said. “If more people washed their hands, there’d be a lot less illness.”

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Information from: Fairbanks (Alaska) Daily News-Miner, https://www.newsminer.com

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