Monday, July 27, 2009

parasite FAQ

Looking back over my posts about Dexter's adventures in parasitic infection, I see that I didn't provide a lot of detail about certain aspects of his sickness. We've gotten lots of questions about the whole thing, so I'll try to answer some of the most common questions here.

What kind of parasite was it? The main offender was a parasite called blastocystis hominis, which is not particularly rare in itself, but it very rarely produces such a violent reaction as what Dexter experienced. In fact, most of the research found that parasite to be quite harmless in at least half of the individuals it infects. Aren't we lucky. Dexter's lab results also turned up positive for another parasite, called endolimax nana, but this bug is known to be non-pathenogenic (i.e. not harmful) so apparently it was not the source of his symptoms.

Where did he get it? Based on the timing of when the symptoms occurred, we think that Dexter picked up the parasite sometime during our weekend camping trip to Lake Chelan at the end of June. The doctors were certain that he did not get it from the lake itself, because Lake Chelan is too cold for these types of organisms, which means he must have gotten it from something on the ground. I prefer not to take my imagination any further than that.

Did anyone else get sick? Nope, which was one reason why Jon and I thought it was a parasite from early on in his illness. He is around so many little kids on a daily basis, and they don't exactly keep their hands and sippy cups to themselves at all times, so if it was a virus then one of the other kids or adults he is around would surely have gotten it too. Thankfully parasites are not easily passed from person to person, so no one else was affected.

Can he eat normally yet? For the most part, yes. He is on a lactose-free diet for the next week or two, but he can eat as much as he wants otherwise. His appetite is back and he loves his new "vanilla (soy) milk"!

Though I will be thanking many of you personally, I'd also like to take one more opportunity to say a huge THANK YOU to everyone who helped us before, during, and after our hospital stay. The calls, visits, flowers, gifts, food, texts, facebook messages, cards, and prayers were what got us through it all, not to mention all the folks who cared for Nate... We are overwhelmed by the love and support, and so very grateful.

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