Bugs, Bites and Parasites
Within my blog I wrote some posts regarding the Monsters Inside Me programmes aired on Discovery/Animal Planet. Recently I noticed a new series which is airing entitled Bugs, Bites and Parasites. I’ve started watching so here’s a few snippets from the programme.
Tropical Diseases Uncovered
Deadly Snake Bites, Parasitic Worms and Why Do Some Parasites Lay eggs in Human Flesh?
Snake Bite - 32 year old male from Hull, England The man owns a pet rattle snake. One day, when he is a little careless and lacking in concentration when attending the snake, he gets bitten. He is in agony, excruciating pain, a pain that he has never experienced in his life! He describes the bite like having almost been injected with acid. His finger feels like it’s on fire! Within minutes, his finger begins to blister. He realises he must get to Accident and Emergency immediately. He needs an anti-venom. Unfortunately there is no anti-venom at the hospital and it has to be transported from another part of the country. It takes 2 hours to arrive before he receives the treatment. The snake venom has caused tissue damage. But without the anti-venom it could have been much worse. It could have cost him his finger or even his life.
A young male - Spider Bite ? He has, what he thinks is a spider bite on his back. There is something embedded in his back. His friend tries to remove whatever it is. They think it could perhaps be parasite eggs that are in the wound. They remove hard masses. A doctor examines the wound but doesn’t believe that they are parasite eggs, but conjeeled puss.
49 year old female, from South Africa She goes for a routine smear. Her smear reveals parasitic eggs! Schistosomiasis! It is a flat worm. The doctors try to find out how she contracted the infection. She gives doctors a brief history. Around 15 years ago, whilst swimming, she recalls feeling very itchy all over after her swim. Doctors believe this is how and where she contracted it all those years ago. She is given treatment but needs to be checked again that she is clear of the infection. A urine test is carried out but she hasn’t got the all clear yet. Blood is also taken. Another urine test is done because she needs to give a larger sample. Her bladder is examined and the doctors think it looks a bit odd. The parasitic eggs have caused inflammation and scarring on her bladder. Her bladder should look smooth yet it has nodules on it. To establish if lasting damage has been done, another examination of her bladder is carried out. On further examination, her urine and bladder seem fine. Fresh water snails are the transmitter. The parasite enters through the skin.
Male, holidaying in Spain He returns to England. His foot is severely infected with bacteria which has eaten away at the flesh on his foot. This can be life threatening. He describes a foul smell. He has Necrotizing fasciitis. Amputation may sometimes be necessary depending on the severity of the infection. Doctors remove most of the dead tissue and he is given maggot therapy to help remove the remainder of the dead flesh. Maggots love to feed on dead flesh. They kill the bacteria and promote the growth of new skin. For a week, he undergoes the maggots therapy. (It was awful to watch, there was a clip of a guy with what looked like a plastic bag over his foot and you could see the maggots gorging. It made my skin crawl watching it!) After the maggot treatment, the results were amazing! His foot began to heal very well and he makes a recovery.
21 year old male He has recently returned from doing voluntary work in Africa. He was previously treated for malaria. But he is still feeling unwell. He spent the last 2 months in Uganda, helping build schools. Doctors test for other infections he could have picked up whilst in Africa as he had mentioned he had swam in Lake Victoria whilst he was there. Doctors suspect Schistosomiasis. Blood tests are taken and he tests positive for Schistosomiasis. He receives treatment.
Many fresh water sources harbour this deadly parasite, a breeding site for the snails which carry the parasitic worm. Locals wash their clothes and even bathe in the waters. Even knowing the dangers, the waters can prove very hard to resist, especially for children who love to play in water. A specialist team from Liverpool Tropical Disease Centre in England are working in Africa on a mass screening programme. Many children are tested. A third of the first batch that was tested proved positive. Many children were found to be infected. One little boy is desperate to be tested. He wasn’t in the original test group but asks for help and to be tested. He has been noticing blood in his urine. He has had the disease before and recognises the symptoms that he is experiencing all over again. He is tested and the results show that he has a chronic infection. The professor looks at the boy’s urine sample under a microscope and he has NEVER seen a sample quite like it. There are too many eggs to count. All of the children receive treatment.
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