CBS Local — A new health craze that has many people paying high prices for unfiltered water is also reportedly putting those Americans at risk for diseases like hepatitis and norovirus.

According to a report from The New York Times, the demand for “raw water” in and around California’s Silicon Valley has sent prices soaring. The small companies bottling their untreated product have hiked the price from $36.99 to over $60 for a 2.5-gallon jug.

“It has a vaguely mild sweetness, a nice smooth mouth feel, nothing that overwhelms the flavor profile,” San Francisco grocery store manager Kevin Freeman told the Times.

“Raw water” is essentially water that comes straight from natural sources and has not passed through any government cleaning processes or pipes. The water has gained popularity because it does not contain any additives like fluoride, which is typically added to tap water to help prevent tooth decay. Unfortunately for the people seeking this “off-the-grid” solution, most streams, rivers, and groundwater contain parasites that can make drinkers very sick.

“Just because you’re in a natural area doesn’t mean there aren’t bacterial pathogens in the water that you just can’t see,” the CDC’s Vince Hill told Live Science. “Spring water and mountain stream water may look pure, but it can be contaminated with things like bacteria and viruses.”

The CDC’s Waterborne Disease Prevention Branch and other health officials are warning that the raw water can hold bacteria linked to cholera, E. coli, Hepatitis A, and Giardia. “Almost everything conceivable that can make you sick can be found in water,” food-safety attorney Bill Marler explained to Business Insider.


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