Monthly Archives: June 2008

Crypto and Diarrhea, together again…

Oh boy. I now have a project. Instead of looking into the feasibility of introducing BioSand to pastoralist communities in Ruaha, now we’re focusing on disease. Dirty, dirty disease. Diarrheal disease in fact. You see, there’s these little creatures called Cryptosporidium, and they lay eggs. Scientists call the eggs oocysts. We’ll call them eggs, it’s easier to type. Crypto eggs are highly infectious, kind of like meth in the Castro, and are spread through a certain transmission pathway, much like that happening in the nice USAID poster above. What happens is that eggs are evacuated through poo, then enter the environment. If it rains, they wash away with the water and sometimes end up in rivers, ponds, and lakes. If it doesn’t rain, they live on the ground in cow patties and shoat pellets. If you have a dog like I do, maybe he eats the patties or pellets and gives the eggs a new home. Then, all over again, the little creatures play and make crazy in your intestines, cause a massive evacuation, and liberate the little eggs. Maybe this time it rains….Then we’re all in trouble.

Crypto nasty!

Crypto Nasty! (Credit:

The research team in Tanzania identified Crypto in water, and has designated a few hot spots. These hot spots are especially at risk of infection, and seeing as its the dry season in the summer months, there’s less water around, everyone (including livestock and wildlife) goes to the same watering hole for the good stuff. Another funny thing about Crypto is it’s ability to really target the little people. Vulnerable calves, children, old people, and immuno-compromised. It’s a bully. So a calf drinks some contaminated water, or maybe stumbles and falls into a patty, and then it gets Crypto. Massive diarrhea can ensue for about a week, then the animal slowly builds up immunity. Unless of course it’s really hot, dry, and there’s not much water, in which case the animal can die from dehydration and electrolyte loss. It sucks to have diarrhea. It sucks real bad to have it when it’s hot and dry and your new to the world. The womb must look real cozy when you’re shitting your brains out a week after birth.

Doomsday video sourced from:

Why am I talking about this? Well, it’s what I am about to become. A master in Crypto-induced diarrhea. My new project is looking at these hot spots for Crypto, and finding what factors, behaviors, and practices cause to increase or decrease the risk of infection. I’ll be doing a whole lot of observational ethnography, kind of a sociomedical research practice, and some survey and interview work. We’ll also be doing some focus groups to identify preliminary questions on livestock and calf management practices, sanitation practices, and risk ranking to find out what factors are locally recognized as threats to health. It sounds like a lot of fun.

On a side note, I start Swahili today. More on that later…