We have had a parasite issue at work recently. Like any good netizen, the minute I heard it I went to Wikipedia to look it up and get as much information as possible. I then checked a couple of other sites like the Mayo Clinic and other medical websites. Armed with information I made some decisions about transmission to staff and clients and whether we would have to fumigate the office. I was also trying to figure out how one person may have contracted this and the likelihood that it came from a source within the office.
I quickly determined that we could not isolate the source. The person may have picked it up elsewhere and brought it in. The possibility existed that it was brought into the office on some items of clothing but the chances of the pest surviving very long away from a human host is not great – at most 24-36 hours. With this particular pest it takes 4-6 weeks from the time of infestation to show symptoms. Clearly from what I gathered it seems that the most dangerous time was actually 2 months ago when the person first contracted it. We got rid of the stuff that may have been suspect just in case and really more for peace of mind. I tried to counteract the hysteria (my own included) with facts. I learned that I would be more likely to contract this pest, including a more virulent reaction because I have a compromised immune system. As Deb pointed out if anyone is going to get it, it will be me.
Then I remembered that I had come into contact with this particular pest when I was about 20 years old working in a boy’s group home in Toronto during the 1980s. One of the kids had it. I can’t remember where we got our information from in those days. I would imagine we would have had to check and encyclopedia to learn anything about it. I imagine that I may have gone to a library to look up this information.
Now if we need to know something we can look it up on our computers or punch it into our smart phones. I certainly prefer the ability to get information instantly. I cannot imagine how difficult it would have been for the manager of that group home to handle all these hysterical staff and boys because they were worried they would become infested with this pest. I suppose there is a downside to immediate information. Sometimes there can be a lot of misinformation out there although this is mitigated a great deal by only using reputable sites. I would not want to go back to pre-internet days for anything!