Health Survey for Appalachian Trail Hikers

Published Nov 12, 2013


Just say "No!" to the norovirus!

Margaret Tomann is conducting a research project on "Water and Vector-Borne Disease on the Appalachian Trail" for her Master's in Public Health and Parasitology, which (unlike a degree in philosophy) will probably never require her to say, "Would you like fries with that?"

Margaret Tomann is a graduate student at Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine who is working towards her Master's of Science in Public Health with a focus in Tropical Medicine and Parasitology. She graduted in 2009 from Villanova University with a B.S. in Comprehensive Science.

The goal of her project is to determine the effect of wilderness acquired disease on achievement of long distance hiking goals and to identify associations between preventive measures of personal hygiene and water treatment with disease prevalence and outcome.

That's where she lost me, but you're probably so smart that you won't become confused until you read this:

"Health concerns for long distance hikers include a number of water and vector borne diseases. Infectious diarrhea can be caused by viruses, bacteria, and protozoan parasites, the most common being Giardia and Cryptosporidium. Transmission for water borne disease is typically fecal-oral, or contaminated food and water. Without diagnostic testing, it can be difficult to determine the specific cause of wilderness-acquired diarrhea."

Spare yourself the rest of this story. Click Here for The Health Survey.

Still with me? Give this a shot:

"Vector borne diseases are caused by infectious agents transmitted through blood-sucking ticks, mites, lice, fleas, and biting flies. The term "vector" refers to any arthropod which transmits disease through feeding activity. Though Lyme Disease is the most common, there are several other tick-borne diseases present along the AT, including Ehrlichiosis and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever."

In May 2013, Public Opinion Online reported a viral outbreak of Norovirus on the Appalachian Trail, considered to be one of the worst in AT history. Norovirus has a 12 - 48 hour incubation period and can cause 24 - 60 hours of diarrhea, vomiting, and dehydration. Even after recovery, those affected can be still be contagious for up to two weeks, thereby putting fellow hikers and campers at risk.

Seriously, taking the survey will be beneficial for future hikers. It's a painless way to help others.

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Tags: Appalachian Trail Conservancy, Appalachian Trail, Hiking, and News

About the Author Robert Sutherland:
Robert Sutherland is a travel writer enjoying life. Robert has two adult daughters and six grandchildren.
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