Monters Inside Me - Entamoeba Histolytica, Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome and Encephalitis
Monsters Inside Me
Another write-up, as I understood the programme, after watching an episode of Monsters Inside Me aired by Discovery/Animal Planet.
26 year old female, Colorado
She loves to travel, explore and experience new cultures. After graduating from college she gets the chance of a lifetime. She has the chance to travel to Boende in Africa. She will be working as a Community Health Educator on the trip. One of the things she will be doing is carrying out hand-washing demonstrations to help prevent illness.
Two months into her trip she begins to experience an ailment of her own. She experiences sharp pains in her stomach and has a great urge to go to the toilet. She feels sick. She takes anti-nausea meds but they do nothing to help her symptoms. A few days later she notices that her clothes are beginning to hang off her, she is losing weight. Because of her stomach symptoms, nausea and the loss of weight she decides to send a stool sample to get checked out. Her sample has to be sent 500 miles away.
Although her symptoms persist, she continues to work. There are lots of people who are sick and need help. She does question whether she has picked something up as she is in contact with sick people. She also questions malaria.
A week later she receives a parcel in the post. It’s with regards to the stool sample she had tested. The parcel contains antibiotics but there’s no note or instruction, just the antibiotics. She takes the medication and she does begin to feel better.
Two months later, her symptoms return. She is throwing up. She sees a green foam-like substance in her vomit. Immediately she panics. She contacts doctors again. Her symptoms are getting worse.
She is desperate and she leaves the village on her bicycle and travels for many miles, heading for Bobo. On arrival, she is checked over by doctors. They question appendicitis. She gives another stool sample. One week later the test results are back.
She is diagnosed with the parasite Entamoeba Histolytica. Inside her body, the parasite is attacking, causing her pain, nausea and dehydration. This parasite eats its way through the intestinal wall, reaching the blood steam. If it reaches vital organs in the body, it can be deadly.
Doctors give her powerful anti-parasitic drugs. She takes the meds for two weeks. Luckily the meds reach the parasites and kill them before they have reached her vital organs. In total, she spent 8 months in Africa before she was able to return home to America.
This parasite is one of the most infected parasites in the world. It can be deadly!
How did she become infected? It was thought she had eaten from a bowl in which others had eaten from too and the food was contaminated.
She loved helping others on her trip but unfortunately, due to her having been infected, she was unable to go back and do more work in helping others in Africa. She may not have been able to go back but at least she had her fond memories to look back on.
Young Mother, Kansas
She feels unwell, looks pale and has dark circles under her eyes. She feels very weak. After heading to bed, a few hours later, she wakes and heads to the bathroom where she is throwing up. The vomit is black! It looks like dried blood!
She takes ibuprofen but this makes no difference to her symptoms. Two days later her temperature has risen to 104! Her family are extremely concerned. She is rushed to hospital. Doctors run multiple tests. Her blood pressure is low. Her oxygen levels are dropping. Doctors give her an oxygen mask to help keep her oxygen levels up.
The following morning, doctors call her mother. Her daughter is very seriously ill. She can no longer breath on her own. Her mother has to sign papers allowing them to put her on a life support machine. Doctors explain to her mother that her kidneys are beginning to fail and her lungs are beginning to fill up. She is critically ill. Fluid is also building up outside her lungs as well as inside her lungs. Doctors drain the fluid but her lungs continue to fill with fluid. Doctors order more tests. Her condition rapidly deteriorates. Her heart monitor goes off! Her mother shouts for the nurse! The fluid is leading her heart to beat irregularly. Doctors give her meds in order to try and control her heartbeat. If doctors don’t find out what’s wrong with her, and fast, she will die.
Two days later doctors find out what’s wrong with her. Her blood tests are back. She has Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS). It can be deadly. It can do a lot of damage. It attacks the tiny blood vessels which surround the lungs and wrips gaps between the cells. The fluid from the blood leaks through these gaps and starts to fill up the lungs. The blood that is left in the capillaries start to thicken which can lead to organ failure and even death.
HPS is extremely rare. Around 300 cases are reported each year and 50% of these cases are usually lethal.
Doctors have more bad news. There is no known treatment for the disease. For ten days the comotosed woman clings to life on a ventilator. She spends her 28th birthday in a coma in hospital.
Doctors are then faced with a terrifying dilemma. They are going to have to remove her breathing tube. It has been in too long. Doctors take her off the ventilator and prepare to put her on a more permanent breathing tube in her neck. Something quite miraculous happens just as the first breathing tube is being taken out. It is extraordinary! They watch her begin to breath on her own! It is a miracle! To everyone’s amazement she is breathing on her own, she is out of her coma. It is against all the odds!
Two months later, she finally returns home to her family. She is reunited with her children. They are overjoyed.
How did she contract the virus? Rodents are carriers. It can be breathed in from dust from rodent excrament. Where she lives, there are mice everywhere and she believes when she was cleaning away dust, she could have breathed in some contaminated dust. This was the most likely cause.
To minimise the risk of infection, avoid areas where rodents are prevalent. When cleaning areas with rodent excrament, wear gloves and a mask. You don’t want this virus getting airborne!
Toddler Boy, Oregon
One evening, the toddler boy is a little wobbly and dizzy on his feet. His mother checks his temperature. It is 101. He is put to bed and a close eye is kept on the young toddler.
The toddler’s mother runs a children’s day care. She carries on with her work the next day, looking after the young children. She is keeping a close eye on her son. She notices his eyes are fluttering. This is strange. Something isn’t right so she schedules an appointment with a Paedetrician the next day. Next morning, she notices her son is walking strange, like he is dazed. Next, he is lying on the floor, staring at the ceiling. He is unresponsive. He lies lifeless on the floor.
He is rushed to ER where doctors assess him. Doctors believe it is some kind of neurological condition. He has an EEG, to measure his brain functions/electrical activity. He has Encephalitis. This is a very dangerous condition, swelling in the brain. It can lead to death. The doctors don’t know what has triggered it. The swelling is causing his brain to shut down. A Paedaetric Neurologist takes on his case. Although he is not comatosed completely, he is completely unresponsive.
He is given steroids and strong antibiotics to reduce the swelling and to fight infection. However, the cause of the Encephalitis remains a mystery. The doctor runs an MRI scan on his brain. This time the results are shocking! The white matter in his brain has shrunk significantly.
He is unable to walk, talk or respond.
He is started on vigorous physiotherapy to try and reverse things. He begins to crawl and they see improvement in him where he is vocalising a bit more. Very slowly he begins to show slight signs of improvement.
Three months after being admitted to hospital, a very specialist test is carried out and it shows up something positive. There is a WORM in his brain! Baylisascaris Procyonis! They feed on tissue. They can grow as large as 2mm. They can cause significant damage. The boy’s immune system is responding and sending white blood cells to attack the invaders. But this is also causing severe swelling in his brain, causing his eye fluttering, his unresponsiveness and also his neurological problems.
Although this is rare, when a parasite migrates to the central nervous system, the damage is irreversible. In almost 40% of neurological cases, the infection is fatal. To date, survivors of this devastating infection all suffer some form of permanent neurological damage.
Although the medication given to the boy kill the worms, sadly it’s too late to prevent any permanent brain damage. The damage has been done. After 10 more weeks of physical therapy, the boy is eventually sent home.
But how did the little boy contract this horrific infection? This infection is more commonly known as raccoon roundworm. The parasite begins its life cycle in the raccoon, eggs hatch, eventually growing into adults that mate and lay thousands of eggs that are passed in the raccoon’s feaces. If a human ingests the eggs, they hatch in the small intestines and can migrate to vital organs.
The boy’s parents had said that their little boy was always eating dirt in their yard and that their yard was visited by raccoons. This was the probable cause of his infection.
Today the boy is 8 years old. After countless hours of therapy, he has made significant progress. He is learning to walk again but can only communicate through sign language.
To minimise the risk of infection, keep outside areas free of food sources.
No feedback yet
|Monsters Inside Me »|