Salmonella Typhi – Not Simple Food Poisoning.

Salmonella Typhi – first, my story
I have been seeing a naturopathic doctor,

Not because anything is wrong,
But to do my annual checkups, blood work etc.,
Plus to see what kind of herbal tune-ups would be good
For a person my age (58).

One of the things she does is biomagnetic testing.
You lay on your back and she places magnets
Around your body, lifts and moves your feet,
And by some miraculous divining,
Kind of like water witching,
She said everything looked really great
Except, that strangely, I tested positive
For salmonella typhi (aka typhoid fever).
I wasn’t sick, no fever, so I dismissed it
As a fluke of the magnet testing

This was in early May
It took me a day or two to let that one sink in,
Then I suggested we do a lab test to see what it said.
The test came out showing 1:40 for all four items they test,
Which basically means I didn’t have it now,
But I could have been exposed,
Or I could have had it in the past.

Now, when you go reading about salmonella typhi
You don’t want to think you have had it in the past
And you certainly don’t want it in your future
Because it can find ways to lodge in the body,
Show up later to haunt you,
Can cause very serious health problems.
Be life threatening.
On top of that,  you can be a carrier and not know it.
If you are, and you don’t wash your hands carefully
After every bathroom trip,
You can give it to others.
As in typhoid Mary.
After getting a second opinion
About whether my test showed if I have it or not,
We determined I did not have it.
It did bring on a frantic search for information, however.
And a frantic, OCD level hand washing experience,
Before and after I touched anything,
It was hard not to obsess.
There’s more, but first…

John’s Story..
A week before I had this testing,
John walked in the living room one day,
Laid down on the couch and said,
“I am so tired I can’t move.”
He didn’t get off the couch for three days.
The following week he had work up in the states,
So he went see the accupuncturist
To see if he could help with his energy.
He was so exhausted he couldn’t move.
He didn’t have a fever, but felt like he had one,
His body temperature felt like it was all over the place,
But no real fever – strange.
Aches and pains, no appetite.

This, of course, was during the second week
Of the swine flu epidemic,
Where you had to wear masks in the airport,
Pass physical inspection and hope
That you didn’t pick up something life threatening.
The bus was almost empty.
The plane was one third full.
He had a row all to himself.
He made it past the inspection
Got on the plane and went to sleep,
Landed in the US, took Ibuprofen for a week,
And worked.

Normally he calls every night
With something to talk about.
This time, he didn’t call, and when he finally did,
All he could talk about was his exhaustion,
How he had to go to sleep, good bye.
He started to scare me,
It sounded like the way you think about people
When their life is up and they’ve given up.
I was thinking, this isn’t my life,
I’m not ready for this,
He’s just going to come home
And never get out of bed.

Well, he made it home and went straight to bed.
By this time I had had my magnet testing,
Followed by the lab work.
Putting two and two together, I wondered
If he might have contracted Salmonella.
He tested with very strong high positive numbers.

During all this we realized that we had 
No doctor here in town
No hospital information
No telephone numbers written down
No idea what to do if something serious happened.
And this was feeling very serious.

This started me on my research for
Medical insurance here, doctors,
And information on the various medical facilities.
Beginning with Dr. Roberto Maxwell,
Everyone’s favorite heart doctor,
Which we don’t need, but nevertheless,
A place to start, and we think a good person to know
If you need to go to a hospital and have someone on your side.
He says all of johns lab results are just fine.
Salmonella – yes the numbers are high, but!
The definitive test is the stool test
Which of course he did not have, so therefore,
The Dr. was reluctant to say it was definitely Salmonella Typhi.
He was thinking on the lines of:
Autoimmune disease,
Epstein Barr syndrome,
Things you really don’t want to know you have.

The naturopath says with numbers like his,
She was positive it was salmonella typhi
Even without the stool test.
So antibiotics it was.
500 mg twice a day of ciproflaxocina
For 14 days.  The normal treatment.
It is common for certain strains
To be immune to the various antibiotics,
But this one is the treatment of the day here.
Slowly, it worked, but his energy was so low
He could just get up, move around and eat,
Go lay down again and start all over.
That plus a lot of sleeping day and night.
At the end of the 14 days of antibiotics,
His energy was still so low he could do nothing
But basic getting to and from bed and eating.

After two weeks on antibiotics
Still acting like this was scaring me even more.
Once he quit the antibiotics,
His energy started returning.
Over the next couple of weeks,
All the symptoms began to subside,
And he’s back to normal.

During this time,
I had done a lot of reading on the subject
Plus doing the totally fruitless mind game
Of trying to figure out where
This could have been picked up.
Street food?
Yes, we have eaten street food.
Anyone in one of those stands
Could be a carrier – not washing their hands
Except in the shared bucket of water
Which the entire crew rinses off,
After handling chicken, beef, chorizo
With their bare hands.
Maybe the fish stand at the tuesday market.
Eating salad at a restaurant.
A waiter who doesn’t wash properly
After using the bathroom.
How about the peanut scare in the United States?
Easy to think it could have been picked up there
As we were both there several times during that scare.
No point going there because we’ll never figure it out.
The water here?

What now?
Once you know you have  had it,
And I mean being tested for it to be sure
With a stool culture, not just a blood test,
You need to follow up over time,
We’ve been told every 3 mo. the first year,
To be sure it isn’t still in you.

It’s not the typical food poisoning
Which everyone calls salmonella poisoning
For lack of a better term for it.
There are definitely other kinds of food poisoning.
Salmonella typhi IS Typhoid fever
And should not be taken lightly.
So for the next year,
It’s stool cultures for both of us,
Just to be sure,
And if at any time we feel ‘off’
For more than a day or two,
It’s off for testing.
Most likely, since it was treated,
It won’t show up again,
But you want to be sure.

Here are the basic symptoms,
Sudden onset of sustained high fever,
Body Aches
Loss of appetite
Enlargement of the spleen (serious if not detected)
General malaise
Possible meningitis
If not treated can be fatal if not treated early
Lives in human hosts only
Passed through contact with feces
There is a vaccine, mixed results they say
Various antibiotics are used, some not effective any more.

As for me and my results
The fact that I had numbers instead of negative
In my lab results can mean,
If I am hearing them right,
I could have had it
But maybe not,
I may have been exposed but didn’t get a full fledged bout.
I need to watch to be sure.

Back in January,
I did a blog post – Miss Smartypants
Where I talked about coming down with something,
Wondering if it was something I ate at the market
Or at a street stand, feeling like John felt
Wondering if perhaps this was my little bout with it.
I’ll never know for sure, but the symptoms,
Although for a very short period of time,
Compared to John’s (8-10 weeks of being sick)
Were sure similar.

We have to live with a lot of not knowing here.
Then you also have to realize
That all the ways we think it could have occurred
May not even be close to the real story,
So life goes on,
It’s kind of like thinking about
How to keep from contracting the swine flu,
Probably impossible to know where
You might have picked it up if you actually get it.

A little side note –
When we were at Dr. Maxwell’s
He asked how we cleaned our vegetables.
We told him we soaked them in microdyn.
He says, that isn’t enough.
Salmonella (and other things) are bacterias.
They can be washed off.
Wash your hands.
Use a tiny bit of dish soap and rub/scrub each piece.
Yes, even the lettuce – especially the lettuce and cilantro.
The scrubbing moves bacteria,
The water washes off all the residue,
Don’t worry about things tasting soapy,
They don’t if you rinse.
Then soak them in the microdyn.
Yes, it takes a little more time,
But he says, it is most likely,
That hand picked vegetables here in Mexico,
Are often picked by workers in fields,
Who have no facilities to clean their hands
After using the bathroom.
Many food born illnesses get passed this way.

My personal advice.
If you get what you think is food poisoning,
Or something flu like that just does not go away,
Or very high fever.
Ask for a stool test for ‘febriles’
To see if salmonella typhi is involved.
You need to do the test BEFORE taking antibiotics.

The result of all of this
Is a lot of research into the medical services
Here in San Miguel and beyond including,
Hospital services & when/why you to go one or another,
Seguro Popular
International medical policies
All of which is the subject of another post that I am working on.

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