Joseph A Olson –
Perhaps you are a United Nations delegate, leaving what will be the FINAL Conference of Parties, the COP16, concluding now in Cancun, Mexico. As you pack away your ‘party’ clothes you have more than the usual end of holiday malaise. You depart the Mayan Rivera in worse shape than any other Rivera visit you can recall.
You may assume your ‘unsettled’ stomach is due to the over indulgence of Senor Frogs Tequila. Maybe your itchy skin is from too much fun in the sun. You may be discovering that this land of surprises has a final surprise for you. So common are ‘digestive’ problems for tourists to Mexico, that there is a long list of colorful names for this condition, such as, Turistas, Montezuma’s Revenge or the Aztec Two-step.The symptom is diarrhea, but the cause can be a number of diseases. The simplest and most common is Escherichia coli and can often be overcome in a few days. The more serious diseases include Hepatitis, Parturition, Bacillary or Amoebic Dysentery, Cholera, Cryptosporidiosis or Giardiasis. The latter, according to Wikipedia, is playfully nicknamed “Beaver Fever” because of its frequent hosting by other mammals. These forms of diarrhea are often spasmodic and induce vomiting at the same time. If you feel symptoms of ‘beaver fever’ gripping your digestive tract it is best to have a bucket handy as you sit on the throne. As unpleasant as this subject is for polite western culture to discuss, there is a reason that we only have to discuss this after a visit to the third world. Civil Engineers in the developed countries are charged with the duty to protect our society from these ever present scourges of the third world. My Environmental Engineering classes taught me a great deal about these diseases. While not a medical doctor, I may give you some observations from my only visit to Cancun, and what I declared to be, my final visit to Mexico. I never entered Mexico with either prejudice or delusions. My grandfather was an importer of Mexican trade goods and lived in Brownsville, Texas. He had many friends throughout Mexico and I have visited dozens of cities throughout Mexico, on hundreds of visits in my lifetime.