That is the question I’ve been asking several people in Ecuador over the past few months. I found out awhile ago that many Ecuadorians take a deworming medication as preventative health maintenance. At first, I was shocked. I thought deworming was just for dogs. But I guess humans do it too. I wanted to learn more, so I started asking around.
Apparently, there are a variety of anti-parasite medications available at pharmacies, without a prescription. Taking said medication turns your urine a bright orange color for a few days, and also kills any and all creatures living in your guts.
Some people told me they do this about once a year. Some people told me they do it twice a year. Some people told me they do it whenever they feel like something isn’t quite right in their tummies.
So I started asking friends and coworkers: should I deworm myself?? Again, answers varied. Some people reasoned that I’ve been in Ecuador for a year and a half, so it probably wouldn’t hurt to clean out my system. Others said it’s better to take the medicine only if my stomach feels off. Still others said I should talk to a doctor before taking it, particularly since I’m a gringa.
As luck (or the lack thereof) would have it, I did recently have to go to the doctor because of a fever. (Don’t worry – I’m fine. No Dengue, just a respiratory infection, which I have fully recovered from.) While I was there, I asked him about this deworming medicine. Without hesitation, he responded that I should never ever take it at all. He referred to it as vet medicine, and went on to explain that it’s designed to kill everything in your stomach – including good bacteria. He advised me to come see him if I’m not feeling well.
So I guess I’ll be going with “not to deworm.” Question answered.