Parasites and Pestilence: Infectious Public Health Challenges
An Unexpected Travel Companion...
Its the summer before you enter medical school, and you've decided to do a little travelling. Your trip has brought you to the Vietnamese port city of Halong Bay. Walking through the crowded, narrow streets, you see a street vendor hawking scrumptious Banh Cuan, a delicate steamed rice roll. "No need to worry about gastrodiscoidiasis," you promise yourself, remembering what Dr. Smith taught you about gastrointestinal trematodes and their nasty symptoms. "Banh Cuan is just rice, what could go wrong?" You eagerly fork over a few dong (the Vietnamese currency) and dig in, dipping the warm roll in a savory Ca Cuon sauce.
Later that week you are bent over with abdominal pain, and you can't venture far from your hostel because of constant diarrhea. But you had been so careful to avoid food that might have parasites! What went wrong? The Ca Cuon dipping sauce was loaded with a puree of unwashed vegetables, and this produce was straight out of a farm that uses night soil---dirt fertilized with human feces. The Ca Cuon dipping sauce was crawling with the tremadotes gastrodiscoides hominis, which have now secured themselves to your ascending colon and are laying eggs by the thousands. While you wait for medication, read on to discover where this worm comes from, just what is going on inside of you, and how you can avoid G. hominis next time.