Sunday, January 11, 2009
As Secretary-Treasurer of the American Society of Parasitologists (ASP), I get calls regularly from people who have done a Google search for "parasite," found the ASP web site (http://asp.unl.edu), found my phone number, and called for help. In every case, these folks are convinced they are infected with a parasite. I am not a medical doctor, so usually about the only thing I can do is give them the name, phone number, and e-mail of some local parasitologists, and recommend contacting the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene via links on the ASMTH web site. From listening to these callers, however, I'm convinced they are ill, although sometimes they're calling from as far away as UK or Australia (yes, that's happened). The question in my mind is always: What in the hell is wrong with their primary care physician? Why can't the caller's local health care professionals perform the service they are supposed to be providing for society? Is it because at whatever undergraduate college these people went to, the professional advisers said "it's okay to major in sociology because the med school wants well-rounded people who can talk to patients" instead of "hey, it's a global motile community; get your hands (and mind) on as many different kinds of organisms as you can, as early as you can, and as often as you can, because if your nation persists in military adventure, you might have to actually diagnose a case of leishmaniasis or identify a mosquito"?