WARNING: THERE ARE PHOTOS OF POOP IN THIS POST. DO NOT READ ON IF YOU’RE EASILY GROSSED OUT.
A few weeks ago, all three kids came down with the flu, with runny noses and coughs. Didi was the only one who developed a fever, and on top of that, his poop became green. It was a dark green, and I thought it was a one-off thing due to his fever, but when I mentioned it to the doctor whom we brought Didi to see in Jakarta, he asked me to send a stool sample in for testing.
Didi usually poops once a day, but he (obviously) can’t poop on cue, so it took a week before I managed to send his poop in for testing. The timing was always wrong: he’d poop really early in the morning, or late at night, when the clinic’s lab was closed, and since I had to get the diaper to the lab within two hours, it was a real challenge. The doctor even told me to send our driver on a motorbike rather than the car, as the traffic is usually bad.
I didn’t think much about Didi’s poop at that time, as he seemed his usual happy self, but when I mentioned it to the ladies in my Mums & Bubs group, they advised me to get his poop tested, as it might be this thing called “amoeba”, which is supposedly an “expats’ disease”, because our stomachs aren’t as strong as the locals’. Thank God that Didi pooped at 930am the next morning, and our driver was able to send the diaper to the lab within two hours. The doctor called me shortly after that, and said that Didi had a parasite, aka the dreaded “amoeba”.
What? I have “amoeba”?
I was naturally horrified, as I thought his green poop was due to his viral fever, since he’s on total breast milk, and hasn’t even had plain water yet. The doctor prescribed Flagyl, which is a course of antibiotics, and told me to send Didi’s poop for testing again after five days.
A quick search on Dr Google made me freak out a little, because it sounded rather scary.
“These amoebas may invade the wall of the intestine, leasing to amoebic dysentery, an illness that causes intestinal ulcers, bleeding, increased mucus production and diarrhea. These amoebas also may pass into the bloodstream and travel to the liver or, infrequently, to the brain, where they form pockets of infection (abscesses).” Source
We were headed back to Singapore the day after the diagnosis, but unfortunately, our PD’s clinic was closed for CNY, and would only reopen after we returned to Jakarta, but we figured she probably wouldn’t do anything different either, since this was something more common in Indonesia than Singapore.
Didi hates taking anything that isn’t breast milk, so it has been a real challenge feeding him the antibiotics thrice a day. He vomited on a couple of occasions, and his appetite wasn’t as good as before. The doctor assured us that it was normal, and that some other common side effects include a white tongue, and brown pee. He would also be prone to diaper rash, since the amoeba causes acidic diarrhoea.
I sent Didi’s poop for testing and brought him to see the doctor again on the sixth day, since we returned to Jakarta in the late evening the day before. Even though I hoped that he would be clear of the amoeba, I knew it wasn’t likely, as his poop was still greenish. It wasn’t dark green anymore, but it wasn’t the usual shade of yellow, so I was prepared to continue giving Didi the antibiotics. True enough, the lab result came back positive for amoeba again, and the doctor said that since Didi seemed to have a rather stubborn strain of it, he needed to take an additional course of antibiotics. He was to continue with the Flagyl, and had to take Gabbryl as well, each for a total of 10 days.
Flagyl and Gabbryl
The doctor asked me to send Didi’s poop for testing again after two days of him taking the two antibiotics, which was ten days after he started taking Flagyl. Thank God that his poop was finally clear of amoeba then, but he still had to continue taking the Flagyl for another two days, and the Gabbryl for another eight days. Poor boy.
I’m really uncomfortable about him taking two different types of antibiotics at his age, but the doctor said that it was the only way to clear the amoeba. Sigh. He hasn’t gained any weight since he started having green poop almost four weeks ago, and Meimei is now 600g heavier than him. He still hasn’t finished his course of Gabbryl yet, but hopefully, he will start gaining weight properly after he does.
I asked the doctor how Didi could have gotten it, since he doesn’t take anything other than breast milk. I thought he might have accidentally swallowed some of his bath water, but we do have a main filter for the house, and I was considering getting individual filters for a few of the taps. The doctor said it was unlikely, and thought that he most probably put his hands into his mouth after he had touched a dirty surface, or was touched by someone who has amoeba but doesn’t have any symptoms.
WARNING: STOP READING HERE IF YOU DON’T WANT TO SEE PHOTOS OF POOP.
Initially, I didn’t want to include photos of his poop, but I thought it might be useful for other expats to see what the green poop looks like, so that they can bring their kids for treatment early, if their kids’ poop looks similar. According to the doctor, the earlier the meds are given, the better the chances of a fast recovery, so if you’re an expat based in Indonesia, take note, okay? I really hope this is the first and last time that we have to deal with amoeba!
Some samples of Didi’s green poop
Day seven of Flagyl / Day two of Gabbryl