Water problems

If you can’t talk about bottoms and personal hygiene, do not read any further. This article is for scatologists only. Repeat : “Warning Will Robinson”.

For the last week, I have self-diagnosed myself as having a mild case of giardia. In the past, I have had the real deal but this is very mild. If you have had it, you know the drill – bad wind, burping, distended stomach, bloatedness, following by the occasional evacuation. Add on to that a bit of lethargy and loss of energy.

For me, it has been manageable this time except for the day I “followed through”. May I thank the Lord for permitting this to happen while at home and not (for example) while riding my bike.

While in South America, I was not so lucky. Three hours on a bus in the Andes, precipitous drops right outside the bus window, arrive at destination, feel warm wetness in nether regions, ask partner to check rear-end, confirmed severe accident and I didn’t even know I did it. Emptied contents of underwear, hauled them straight back up and proceeded to tackle the day as planned (sans toilet or any personal hygiene products). That was one of those days when you just want to go into a coma until it is all over. And the next day, I was in a coma.

I had pondered whether you should all know this, but I grabbed the half-consumed plastic bottle of commercially acquired water from last week, opened it up and … it smelt like a botty burp (ie toilet water). I had another bottle in the corner that had been opened for a couple of weeks and … no smell of used toilet paper. Conclusion : I copped a bad bottle and domestic environmental conditions were not to blame.

I am not the only one who been affected by reverse enjoyment, and I have got off lightly as the main detrimental effect has been loss of energy and the strong desire to lie down and have a good deskansa. (Or malinger around my laptop and write blithering dross.)

The word around town is that the culprit is the large plastic water barrels that many people use for drinking water. I doubt that any expat would risk tap water, whether it be the Dili piped supply or bore water. The OZ doctor has had a big run with this one and the drug that appeared to fix it up for severe sufferers was the classic anti-giardia drug, Bactrim. Hence my self-diagnosis.

It seems to be well-known that the bottled water company has quality control issues at regular intervals. I assume this means “run out of chemical A … she’ll be right for a week”, or “UV lamps broken … better order some more”. A long-term resident once told me to never use the barrel water. So one reverts to the smaller 1.5 l and 0.6 l plastic bottles, which has been the house rule for last 2 or 3 weeks.

It is somewhat disconcerting to cop a bad small bottle as well. But I did buy it in LosPalos last week and I had never seen this particular brand in Dili before. Warning over.

4 thoughts on “Water problems

  1. Halo,
    happened upon this and thought it a great coincidence as recently spoke to a well respected advisor to DNAS (wat san gov’t entity). He said the bad smell was often high level of iron, in the form on ferrous sulfate, which quickly oxidises if you leave it out for a few minutes. He did not guarentee that theh bottled water was all safe but said the majority of water borne illness is derived from other sources. Lots of people have giardia this week in Dili….

  2. The self-diagnosis was correct and I have popped the Tinadazole bombs. It wasn’t a severe case of giardia, just uncomfortable and sometimes socially embarrassing.

    No, I am not going to name the brand without a full chemical analysis. It is unfair. Jennifer may be right about the ferrous sulphate. And besides, I never meant to suggest THAT particular bottle was the cause as I had symptoms BEFORE I drank it.

    As for dodgy barrel water, some people swear by leaving the barrels in the sun for a couple of days before bringing them into service.

  3. Squatter

    You pegged the Giardiasis symptoms since you have had it in the past but note that 8-10% of folk have no symptoms at all and sometimes they work in the food industry so it is not always the water by any means. In large urban areas day care centers where they change babies diapers have much higher rates than in campers in the great out of doors or intrepid travelers in the far reaches of google earth. (speaking of which is there some trick to exporting your data points in dili into the Goole Earth that lives in my machine?). Tinidazole is the best drug if you got the bug, it also takes care of many other parasites in case you were close but not exactly correct in your diagnosis. Bactrim/Septra is good for about 80% of bacterial diarrhea (significant local variations may be present) and Cipro always does better but is more expensive. Usually treatment can be done in 3-5 days. For the runs with fever and or blood in stool, Bactrim for 3 days if not resolved Cipro 500 mg twice a day for 5 days. Parasites are easier with the Tinidazole (Flagyl works but it’s side effects may be worse than the disease).

    Drop a note if you have medical questions.

    I do appreciate your comintary


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