Father-in-law passed away last Saturday. Incredibly sad. Tadeusz ‘Ted’ Shooter (Strzelczyk). 15 November 1945 – 22 January 2011. After a courageous battle with Motor Neurone Disease. Terrible, terrible disease. He went from being an amazingly fit 65-year-old to being a bed ridden quadriplegic in only 8 months.

Still swear he caught something from his cat which died from identical symptoms a few months before he was diagnosed. Microscopic nematodes! Very hard to detect and diagnose. If he was a dog then there are four different tests that a vet could use to detect a nematode infection. As a human there are only a few labs in Australia that can do a test. And getting a doctor to condider the possibility is impossible. Some professor has written an article saying that the damage is to the motor neurones in the brain so nobody wants to look further. And it means that the patient will always be referred to a neurologists who will never consider the disease as anything but neurological. “We understand the disease”. No, you don’t, the motor neurone damage is a symptom, just like the muscle wastage.

If you saw a cow wasting away without a second thought you would think it had worms and treat it aggressively until it got better. That the disease progresses and then plateaus in turn, tells you that there is a process going on. Possibly the life-cycle of a nematode?

The eggs are excreted in the faeces and once they hatch burrow into the skin if the faeces is touched or stepped on. This is why it is not contagious for MND carers. The faeces is usually handled with gloves and all traces washed away before the eggs hatch, 3-7 days.

Should have taken his poo to a vet and told them I think my dog has nematodes. Of course, telling your neurologist that you think it is microscopic worms and they will think you are nuts. If you are lucky they will do a totally inconclusive blood test.  Once they had given him a diagnosis they feel their job is done.

Parasitic myositis in tropical Australia
Three patients with Australian parasitic myositis caused by the muspiceoid nematode Haycocknema perplexum are described. Treatment with albendazole led to a slow and incomplete recovery, but treatment with steroids caused life-threatening deterioration.
Patient 1: A 23-year-old woman presented to Cairns Base Hospital with a history of 2 years of insidiously progressive weakness, including 1 year of difficulty swallowing.
Patient 2: “A 61-year-old man was admitted to a Townsville hospital for investigation of a 3-year history of slowly progressive dysphagia and dysarthria, and 1 year of limb weakness. “
Patient 3. “A 61-year-old man from Mackay, Qld, was admitted to Townsville Hospital with a 2-year history of hand cramping, progressive diffuse weakness eventually causing difficulty climbing stairs, and 1 year of dysphagia.”

Nevertheless it is a very sad time. Ted, rest in peace.


About Rob W Harrison
There is a part of my mind that stubbornly thinks about science. I have a life, job, wife and family but without my Van Der Graaf Generator life would be incomplete. I am a great believer that this amazing universe came into being through process: movement >pressure > density > mass. Maybe I believe in an non viscous ether. Anyway this is where I can share my thoughts.

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