Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Cryptosporidium - Ah, the Memories!

Here's a story that ... well, it doesn't warm my heart, exactly.

From the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:
"Milwaukee marks 20 years since Cryptosporidium outbreak" by Don Behm

Other links:
From the Helio article:
To date, the Milwaukee cryptosporidiosis outbreak is the largest epidemic of waterborne disease reported in U.S. history.

I remember that time well, all too well.  Consider this quote from the Journal-Sentinel article:
In the days before Norquist's announcement, most of the reported illnesses were concentrated on the city's south side. City officials on April 8 took the unprecedented step of shutting down the Howard Ave. filtration plant until it could be cleansed of the parasite.
I lived on the south side.  In fact, I lived exactly 1.3 miles from Howard Avenue water treatment plant, the center of the outbreak.  I never had a chance.  :(

I was very, very sick.  It was so bad that I actually went to a doctor's office--which I NEVER do!  They prescribed some penicillin for me and I was on my way.

Except ... I quickly learned that I am allergic to penicillin!  That was it.  I was completely knocked out.  I missed a whole week of work.  I asked a co-worker to bring a computer home (we didn't have personal laptops back then, but we did have some "portable" computers) so I could do some work but I never used it once.  I just lay on the couch all day, barely conscious.  The only time I got up was to drink water, try to eat a little bit of food (and keep it down), or to use the toilet ... which I had to do OFTEN.

As the article describes:
Surveys determined about 403,000 people in the five-county metropolitan area were sickened with watery diarrhea between late March and early April of that year, according to Davis.
Yes, indeed, I was in that group of people.  My apartment was not a pleasant place during this time.  Watery diarrhea indeed!  I have never been so sick in all my life, before or since.

On the bright side, it was the best weight loss program I've ever seen.  I lost 20+ pounds, easy, and I wasn't nearly as fat then as I am now so that was a good chunk of weight to lose.  I was skin and bone after that week of eating nearly nothing.