Thursday, July 16, 2009

So, Why Don't Parasites Usually Kill Their Host?

On our return from Xi'an in May, I felt some rumbling on the airplane. Not only were the engines firing, but so too my intestines. After eleven days of Mao's revenge, I broke down and went for some medical assistance. Venturing to CBD's Kerry Center to visit the Vista Clinic (an international "boutique" clinic that caters to Westerners, as is evidenced by their high level of service and matching prices, but certainly not without Chinese characteristics), I was deemed "without infection" and given a few meds to get my digestive system back on track.

So why am I writing about this in July? After waiting for several weeks for my system to get back on track, but still not feeling quite right, I decided to do a little research on my condition on my own. While Google should certainly never be used as "Dr. Google," it did serve as a research engine for possibilities.

Armed with my theories, I ventured back to Vista this week. My guess is that I have been harboring an intestinal parasite common to China and some other countries known as Giardia. While I'll probably never know if this was definitely my affliction, as they hang out in the small intestine and are difficult to detect in a Chinese medical lab, I agreed with the doctor that a nice blast of antibiotics and some anti-spasm tablets might be in order.

As a result, things seem to be "moving" in the right direction. I think a nice hearty two gram dose of Tinidazole was the key. And while this setback definitely slowed me down a bit over the last few weeks, it provided me with two great lesson plan ideas for next year's bio kids. The topics "parasitism" and "antibiotic use" will have a great case study to make them a whole lot more interesting!

~Desi

PS: Parasites don't usually kill their host because then they'd die too! Best to weaken your host and chow down for a long, long time.

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