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Monsters Inside Me

19 Nov

Chagas Disease Spreading in Southern United States

A bug called the "kissing bug" sounds cute, right? However, names can be deceiving. This bug is the opposite of cute, as its kiss involves sucking your blood. In sucking human blood, the kissing bug can spread a parasite that causes Chagas disease. This disease is a problem in the tropical climates of Central and South America, but is very rare in the United States. However, it is starting to spread to the southern states, especially Texas. Researchers are still investigating why, but they believe climate change is a large factor.

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So, what is Chagas disease and its symptoms? It's important to know, because many American doctors aren't trained to recognize the symptoms. First, Chagas disease is a parasitic infection, meaning that the kissing bug transmits a parasite that its carries through a bite or through their feces. The bug is known to bite sleeping people on the thin skin around their eyes or mouth. 

Once someone has the parasite, it may take months and even years for symptoms to manifest. Symptoms are also vague and flu-like: fever, fatigue, body aches, diarrhea, and vomiting. The most significant symptom is swelling eyelids on the side of the person's body that was bitten. However, Chagas disease can also cause blood clots, heart failure, fainting, and death.

Besides through a kissing bug bite, the disease can be spread through blood transfusion, organ transplants, eating infected insects, or eating raw food. The disease can be treated once diagnosed over a two-month period. 

Don't panic, though. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of infected is about 300,000 people in the United States, though that is only an estimate as some people may be carriers with no symptoms. This number skyrockets in tropical countries, with the number estimated as high as 20 million

Check out the whole NBC investigation on the bug here:

The tsetse fly transmits a similar parasite that can cause African Sleeping Sickness. Learn more about it here:

5 Nov

Man Nearly Dies From Tapeworm Larva Inside His Brain

When 26-year-old college student Luis Ortiz started getting headaches, he didn’t think much of it. Headaches are headaches, right?

It all came to a head (no pun intended) when Luis’ headache was so painful, he started to experience nausea and went to the emergency room, according to ABC News. Before he knew it, he was going into surgery, where surgeons removed a tapeworm larva from inside his brain.

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30 Jun

Woman Exposed to Flesh-Eating Bacteria During Mud Run Loses Sight in One Eye

Participants in an unrelated mud run. Photo: Tjeerd Boolj/Flickr

A Texas woman is now blind in one eye after being exposed to a flesh-eating bacteria during a mud run, reports the New York Daily News. The bacterial infection, necrotizing fasciitis, spreads quickly and kills the body's soft tissue, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

According to a Go-Fund-Me page established for Brittany Williams, she suffered from pain and vision loss in her left eye after participating in a mud run with her fiancé. ER doctors originally believed she was experiencing what looked like a chemical burn, however, a few days later, her cornea rapidly deteriorated.

Williams is currently being treated with antibiotics, but is struggling under the cost of care since she does not have health insurance.

Learn more about necrotizing fasciitis in the Monsters Inside Me clip below:

23 Jun

The Plague is Still Relevant: Here's How to Avoid it

A 16-year-old from rural Colorado is the latest victim of the plague. Yes, the plague. The same bacterial infection that wiped out half of London's population in the 14th century, according to Gizmodo.

Taylor Gaes, a promising high school athlete, likely picked up the septicemic plague strain while exploring his parents’ property in the Cherokee Park area of Colorado. According to the Denver Post, Gaes was either bitten by a flea or came in contact with a dead rodent or other animal.

According to reports, Gaes was experiencing flu-like symptoms only four days before his death. Septicemic plague is rare and targets the victim by entering the blood stream and often kills quickly, according to Gizmodo.

Officials encourage anyone who has flea bites or experiences flu-like symptoms after coming in contact with anything in nature to visit a doctor immediately. While this particular strain of the plague is deadly, modern medicine can treat it effectively.

Here are some tips from the Centers for Disease Control to prevent the spread of the plague:

  1. Reduce rodent habitat around your home, work place, and recreational areas. Remove brush, rock piles, junk, cluttered firewood, and possible rodent food supplies, such as pet and wild animal food. Make your home and outbuildings rodent-proof.
  2. Wear gloves if you are handling or skinning potentially infected animals to prevent contact between your skin and the plague bacteria. Contact your local health department if you have questions about disposal of dead animals.
  3. Use repellent if you think you could be exposed to rodent fleas during activities such as camping, hiking, or working outdoors. Products containing DEET can be applied to the skin as well as clothing and products containing permethrin can be applied to clothing (always follow instructions on the label).
  4. Keep fleas off of your pets by applying flea control products. Animals that roam freely are more likely to come in contact with plague infected animals or fleas and could bring them into homes. If your pet becomes sick, seek care from a veterinarian as soon as possible.
  5. Do not allow dogs or cats that roam free in endemic areas to sleep on your bed.

To learn more about another strand of the plague, watch these videos about the bubonic plague from Monsters Inside Me:

Continue reading >

20 Oct

Special Testing Begins To See If Texas Dog Has Ebola

More than one week after going into quarantine, the dog of a Dallas nurse that contracted Ebola has begun the testing phase to determine whether or not he has the virus.

Bentley, a one-year-old Cavalier King Charles spaniel, was moved into a special kennel where officials can watch him and periodically collect samples of his waste for testing, according to a statement from the City of Dallas. Like humans exposed to the Ebola virus, Bentley will be monitored for 21 days.

The dog’s ordeal began earlier this month when his owner, Nina Pham, was diagnosed with Ebola after contracting the virus from a patient at a Dallas hospital. Pham has since been transferred to the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland for continued monitoring.

To learn more about Ebola and its tie to dogs, be sure to watch a CNN interview with Monsters Inside Me host Dan Riskin. And if you’re interested in diseases tied to animals and parasites, visit the Monsters Inside Me page on for photos, videos and more. You can also watch a new episode this Thursday at 10/9c.

13 Oct

Dog In Texas Put Into Quarantine After Owner Gets Ebola

A makeshift shrine was made outside Excalibur's home. A sign above reads "Excalibur. You are free now. Rest in peace" (Photo Credit: Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images)

Last week in Spain, a dog was euthanized out of precaution after his owner was diagnosed with Ebola. This week in Texas, a different dog will be spared from a similar fate.

Dallas mayor Mike Rawlings announced that a dog owned by a nurse with Ebola will be quarantined, according to The Dodo. The Dallas Animal Services and Adoption Center will oversee the dog's care with assitance from government officials, as mentioned on Twitter.

The decision comes less than a week after Spanish officials decided to euthanize a dog named Excalibur after his owner became infected, despite protests and a petition signed by around 400,000 people.

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9 Oct

Dog Euthanized in Spain After Owner Is Diagnosed With Ebola

Excalibur barks from the balcony of his owner's residence. He was euthnized October 8. (Photo Credit: Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images)

The Ebola virus that has resulted in more than 3,000 deaths this year has now claimed the life of a dog.

It wasn’t virus itself that resulted in the mutt’s death, but rather a decision by Spanish authorities to euthanize the dog, named Excalibur, after his owner became ill.

Despite protests and a petition signed by around 400,000 people, Excalibur was euthanized in his home Wednesday, as reported by CNN. His owner, María Teresa Romero Ramos, tested positive for Ebola after treating a priest who had been brought back to Spain after working with Ebola patients in West Africa. She has been hospitalized in Madrid, while her husband is under observation for any symptoms.

According to the World Health Organization, Ebola is transmitted to humans through “blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected animals.” And while fruit bats are considered to be the natural host of the virus, Ebola has been documented in infected chimpanzees, gorillas, monkeys, forest antelope and porcupines. Ebola is then spread through direct human-to-human contact with “the blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected people.”

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11 Oct

Things are Getting Freaky on October Fridays!


Monsters-inside-meNothing is more insidiously evil than the killers you can't see. So relax on your couch (if you can) and tune in to to Animal Planet every Friday at 9PM E/P as Monsters Inside Me switches nights for the hallowed month of October.

Prepare yourself by watching some killer clips from previous seasons!

1 Oct

Saltwater bacterium kills nearly 10 in Florida

Beachgoers and water enthusiasts around the Gulf Coast should be on alert for a deadly bacterium that has infected over 25 people in Florida this year, according to ABC News.

A bacterium found in saltwater and brackish waters has folks on alert around the Gulf Coast. (Photo Credit: ThinkStock)

A 59-year-old man died of complications from Vibrio vulnificus, approximately 28 hours after crabbing in a Florida river. The same infection has resulted in nearly 10 deaths in the state alone.

Continue reading >

9 Nov

WATCH: Attack of the Killer... Peas?


When you were little, did you ever fear swallowing watermelon seeds because you were afraid you'd grow a giant watermelon in your tummy? And even though your mom or dad would assure you that this was impossible, you still spit them out as far possible. You know, just to be safe.

Well, tonight's episode of Monsters Inside Me is bringing that fear back to life. How? One of the men featured experienced health issues that were so unusual, it was unclear what was wrong. That is until doctors discovered a pea plant growing in his lung.

That's right. A pea.

Check out this clip below for a sneak peek and tune in tonight at 8PM E/P for the full story!

Pit Bulls and Parolees







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