Erin has Amoebas! *Video*

I received some rather distressing news last week. Although I hadn’t been feeling well for a long while, at least 8 months, I simply thought my fatigue and upset stomach were due to my recently adopted vegetarian diet. Apparently my no-meat diet isn’t the cause. Instead, I have critters.

AmoebaParasitic Friends

Now traveling throughout the world for several years and spending my fair share of time in jungle settings should have prepared me for this, so I shouldn’t really be surprised. In fact, while traveling on the road, I regularly take de-worming pills. But these aren’t worms, they’re amoebas.

Amoebas are a type of parasite and are considered the most primitive animal. They are classified in the kingdom Protista. Amoeboid organisms have no definite form and consist of a mass of protoplasm containing one or more nuclei surrounded by a flexible outer membrane – which just means they’re tiny blobs. Parasites live in aquatic plants and sometime in moist ground, or they can live in animals and humans.

At least six forms of amoeba are parasitic in humans. And the type I have, entamoeba histolytica, is thought to infect one tenth of the world population, about 500 million people. So I’m no alone with my invasive friends.

Mobile Amoebas

amoeba05You get amoebas from eating unclean food. Food contaminated with feces to be exact. This is a distressing thought. It’s also fairly nauseating (actually literally nauseating) that I’ve been infected for a least a year, if not longer. Topping it off, my amoebas have pseudopods—feet!—which they use to propel themselves around my system. I find this particularly disturbing.

Here’s a look at a parasite in motion:

Brain-Eating Amoebas

Also disturbing is the length of time I’ve had my mobile feeding friends. They’ve been there long enough to start attacking my immune system, making me even more tired. But here’s the good news:

  • I went to the ER, got some blood work done, and have been on medication for the last week or so. I’m already feeling more spritely.
  • I have an appointment on Monday with a specialist to make sure the little guys didn’t cause too much damage.
  • I don’t have the feared brain-eating amoebas that kill several Americans every year. I know this because I would already be dead.
  • I also don’t have the type that lay eggs daily in your intestines, creating small pinworms that leave your body through your anus. I repeat, I DO NOT have this one.

The big take away from all this amoeba nastiness: doctors visits and blood tests after every long stint overseas. I’ll remember this as I sail around the Pacific next year. I’ll want to make sure I don’t pick up any one-footed hitchhikers along the way.

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This entry was posted on Friday, July 19th, 2013 and is filed under Erin Right Now.

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