We have a new pet. More accurately, a visitor. Really, probably, we are literally hosting a group of uninvited guests.
Yup. The photo above is a worm. A nematode. A parasite. A roundworm. According to our ‘research’, the most common parasite found in humans.
Without being too disgusting, it was discovered – and captured – in the toilet bowl of our bathroom here in Malay, Aklan, Panay, Philippines. The thing is about 2.5 inches long; like a thin piece of string. It’s wiggling around as I write this.
My wife had the worm in a small plastic container when I awoke today. Good thing she was ‘paying attention’. I’m happily oblivious to whatever might lurk in the commode.
Obviously, it came from one of us. Now we both have anti-parasite medication (the protocol when any family member is diagnosed). And the prescribing doctor says we will undoubtedly see more ‘guests’ after taking the pills.
I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. We’ve been traveling foreign countries – many of them less developed nations – for over five years. And we’ve been in Southeast Asia since November of 2018. We’ve even been treated before.
Back in Mazatlan, Mexico, in late 2017, a doctor advised us to take a common, over-the-counter, anti-parasite medication after health check-ups where blood work was done. He said amoebas were detected.
In fact, in Mexico, anti-parasite medications (like those pictured above) are advertised on TV and billboards. Taking the pills seems to be an accepted biannual practice. I always snickered at the smiling, worm-free, ‘advertising family’ kicking a soccer ball. Soon, I hope to again be smiling — right now, not so much.
Presumably, we were ‘dewormed’ after that Mexican medication in 2017. Since then, who knows where and when and how this has happened? And how bad is it? The situation could have already been festering for years.
I do remember inquiring in Malaysia about the availability of over-the-counter anti-parasite pills — but no one seemed to know what I was talking about. Apparently, it is a more private, doctors-prescription-required process in Southeast Asia.
I have had some of the symptoms of parasites for a while: loss of appetite, lethargy, diarrhea, bloating, discomfort. And maybe it helps explain my ongoing weight loss? I’m down about 30 pounds over the last few years. I’ve joked – it’s the vagabond diet. Indeed.
Upon seeing our unwelcome new friend, I immediately went to the local Philippine doctor’s office/pharmacy. I took the bottled worm with me and showed it to the physician. Within five minutes, I had the treatment pills – and instructions to return with ‘samples’ after a few days.
Further research reveals that an estimated 1 billion people on the planet have some type of parasitic problem. One website said nematodes are THE most abundant life form in existence.
Roundworms are most commonly carried – and spread – by dogs and cats. In undeveloped rural areas, fields, farms, and foods can be contaminated by animal feces containing nematode eggs or larvae. Infection through skin abrasions is possible too.
All of it sounds like our environs of the past few years. In fact, I can hardly comprehend the number of animals we’ve been around since retiring in 2015. Certainly, parasites are a fact of our vagabonding lifestyle.
We’ll see what happens in the next few days. Hopefully, we’ll be rid of this scourge soon. I’ll post a flow-up report — or maybe not. I promise no more photos!
Either way, it’s something we will be more cognizant of going forward; meaning we’ll seek out regular preventative treatment as advertised in Mexico.
As always, be thankful and generous, happy trails & more beer.
Life is NOW!
(Ellen’s note: I saw it in the toilet before I sat down. What a way to start the day.)
Thanks for reading, “September surprise. Nasty nematodes. Toilet trespass.”
See also, ‘Real travel talk: toilets around the world.’