An epidemiology alphabet

The only alphabet guaranteed to make you want to wash your hands. Made by one, Jennifer Gardy.

In related news, this video taught me that the parasite giardia is sometimes called "beaver fever". Why? Because one of its major reservoirs — species that can comfortably host a parasite and pass it on to others — is, yes, the beaver.

Now here's the part you probably don't want to hear. Giardia is transmitted via what's known as the "fecal-oral route".

Now, nobody intentionally goes out and eats beaver shit. (One hopes. But this is the internet.) But beavers do shit in the woods. Near woodland streams. Which means that unwary hikers and backpackers can end up ingesting giardia when they drink from what appears to be crystal-clear waters.

Via the Worms and Germs blog


    1. No, that’s Bieber Fever. It originates in the nether parts, but mostly paralyzes brain function.

    1. I was gonna say, never been to Canada then either. Beaver Fever is all up in all the small northern towns waterways. Its why you don’t drink the water from the tap at the cottage! That’s for washing only not drinking!

  1. This reminds me of all the sanitation classes I’ve taken in my foodservice career. I also remember drinking out of a crystal clear mountain stream once. Once.

  2. We’ve all tasted a little beaver ass. Castoreum is derived from the beaver’s anal gland, and is an additive that is used to give a vanilla, strawberry, or raspberry taste to foods and drink. It’s labelled a natural flavoring and fairly pervasive in our food, i.e., gum, candy, ice cream, Jell-o, to name a few. It’s also used in cigarettes, as well.

    The more you know…

    1. Seriously unclear why it’s more efficient to milk the anal glands of beavers than to just use strawberries.

  3. Giardia is a tough bugger. Chlorination doesn’t touch it, it’s got this whole encysted thing going on. In the 80’s, the city of Pittsfield, Massachusetts got some in its water system and we were boiling water for months on end.

  4. At our summer house, we got our drinking water from a spring that bubbled up right outside the door.  We always thought that it was a bit naff to get it from a stream.

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