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A living laboratory for a sustainable human future.

Are You Hep?

By Arjuna

This summer, Earthaven members learned the hard way that an innocent trip to another country can create a huge problem on many levels. After several months in South America, one long-time member came home unknowingly infected with the Hepatitis A virus, suffered non-specific symptoms from it, and then unknowingly passed it on to another member, who then of course accidentally passed it on to a few others. The person who came down the hardest with the virus wound up at an emergency care center and was quickly diagnosed with Hep A (considered the least dangerous of the three viruses that attack the liver). The epidemic was contained fairly quickly, and future travelers abroad may be asked to have themselves tested for key communicable diseases upon their return. We certainly recommend to all our members and friends to be more “hep” during and after their travels abroad.

Visits from our local Health Department followed immediately, and though we eventually figured out how the outbreak began, their first suspicion was our drinking water. Some taps tested showed a minimal amount of coliform, not from the spring but due to improper handling of the tap. More important, their investigation brought to light the N.C. state requirement that limits the number of people sharing one potable water source to 24 or fewer 25. Fortunately for Earthaven, we have already tapped several springs and are working on a plan to create discrete “water districts” that will serve our neighborhoods as we grow.

The investigation also set specific limits on serving the public, including a prohibition against offering our untreated spring water to the “unsuspecting public.” We witnessed the drilling of the first well ever at Earthaven, after which we will soon be able to offer water for all uses to day guests and campers alike.


health department, Hep A, hepatitis, spring water, water districts, well

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