sickly dog

Peru Post 8: Other Health Stuff

This is just a quick post of a few other health stuff that have stuck out to me while here in Peru.

Door to Door Nurse

I had heard about public health programs involving vaccinating people for certain things almost out of the blue, such as vaccinating kids at train stops in India.  Seeing such a program first hand didn’t make me comfortable.

No Donkey Cart traffic sign
Don’t even THINK about bringing your donkey-cart!

One morning during breakfast, a lady knocked on the door asking if there were any kids in the house under the age of 2.  There is, so she talked to the mom and told her she needed to get vaccinated for the flu and promptly started pulling out the stuff to do so.

The lady gave no identification or proof that she really was a qualified nurse, which really worried me for a bit.  I soon found out that they already knew the nurse since she works at the local health outpost and that this is a normal government thing to do.  They did say that the nurse lady doesn’t have any form of identification though, since the government can’t afford to provide it for everyone.

I’m not gonna lie, that lack of identification really wigs me out.  Sure, the family I’m with knew this lady, but what happens if someone new starts working at the outpost and going door to door?  She’ll have no way of proving she’s legitimate.  Since the people know this, they can’t bother to ask for any sort of proof, and their tendency just seems to be to go along with official looking people at the door.  This sounds like a huge recipe for disaster.  I only hope that when some sort of health catastrophe happens, that the government reacts like Johnson & Johnson did when someone evil exploited its weaknesses in its packaging of Tylenol and poisoned some people (Tylenol recalled all of its products even though it was extremely costly and probably not necessary, and pioneered some tamper resistant packaging.)

Donkey cart
I said no!

My discomfort didn’t end with the identification issue though.  The nurse was also going around with a Hepatitis B vaccine and asked if anyone hadn’t received it within the last 5 years.  One of the kids here hadn’t, so she gave him one.

2 things made me uncomfortable about that.  First, no medical records were examined or used.  None of them really knew when anyone had any shot administered, or what anyone really needed.  I don’t know if there can be problems with over-vaccination, but if so, that’s a bomb with a lit fuse out here.

The second problem I had was that she had the hepatitis B vaccine information completely wrong.  You do not need hepatitis B every 5 years.  It should theoretically work for life, but if you are under 4 years old when you get it, you tend to need a booster after 10-15 years or so.  Some sources say different things, but below are 3 sources among the many all saying, in one way or another, 5 years is not true.

From CDC
From Yahoo Answers (bear with me, the answer here is actually pretty good)
From Adepalma

So, in case you don’t know yet, I would never let that lady near me while she was holding a needle, loaded or not.

Sickly Dogs

I had a friend that served his mission for the LDS church in Uraguay.  He and his friends had a game of trying to take pictures of the ugliest dogs whenever they could, and for those of you that haven’t been to South America, the dogs here get really ugly.

It’s not the breeds, it’s the malnutrition and poor treatment.  Most of the dogs out here are strays, and even the dogs with owners are treated more poorly than dogs in the United States.

Sick puppy
Not a great shot.  He looks sicklier in person

The pictures of dogs I have are of the stray variety.  It’s pretty common to see them very skinny and sometimes looking like zombies.  There have been sleeping dogs that I’ve passed that literally looked like they were dead and partially decomposed, except that there were breathing.

It’s not that the dogs are abused, they’re just neglected.  Shoot, where I’m doing my work, the families have a hard enough time feeding their kids, they can’t feed a dog too.  As such, the dogs run around freely, picking through the garbage, getting into fights, and looking like Halloween.

Food Temperature

Maybe this one is legitimate, but it seems weird to me.

Stomach issues from food is more often attributed to the temperature of food when eaten rather than its contents.

For example, in Iquitos, the lady I was staying with and I both got sick from a “pudding” she made.  It wasn’t really like a pudding, it was more like an oatmeal cake or something like that, very thick and heavy.  I don’t know all of what she put in it, but it certainly wasn’t problem free as I found out that night.

Donkey cart with hay

What was the culprit?  Nothing that she put in it (nor the fact that she might not have cooked it all the way through,) it was the fact that we ate it while it was still hot.  Her friend agreed with her too.  Eating that stuff while it’s still hot or warm is crazy talk!  It’ll make you sick every time!  Well, I’m not sure about that, since eating it after in cooled down punched me in the guts as well.

Another instance came when I was already having sinus issues and didn’t want to eat anything that created more phlegm (such as milk.)  They have a desert here made out of purple corn with a texture like pudding and jello had a baby, and whoever the mom was ate way too much purple corn during the pregnancy.  For me, that was potentially phlegm city, but according to them, it would be ok right now because it was hot.  Last time I ate it, it was cold, and that would certainly cause phlegm, but it’s hot right now, so you’ll be clear.  I still politely declined.

Donkey cart with a kid
You kids!!!

The final example came one day after dinner.  I had just had a delicious hot soup, and there was some jello for dessert, but the lady said that I couldn’t have it yet since the jello was very cold and I had just had hot soup.  Eating something cold right after something hot would cause me problems, so I had to wait.  She was watching, so I waited.

If anyone knows of any sources identifying truth behind the temperature deal, I would love to see it so I can make sense of it.  Gracias.


Keep seeking truth.

You may also be interested in:
Peru Post 6: Death and Disease
Peru Trip Post 1
TEDxBYU and What I Really Wanted to Say

Sick dog
Well defined ribs
sickly dog
sickly puppy
Not run over, not a zombie, just a dog.

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