Why I Think It Is Important for Worm Donors to get Frequent Blood tests

There was a post on the Yahoo helmintherapy forum, in response to my query about how often a person who is acting as a “resevoir donor” (one hosting human hookworms or whipworms and giving them or selling them to another person to be infected)  should be tested for viral diseases.  I figured I’d post my response here since I don’t really enjoy being harshed upon .

First off, I was puzzled by the  “DO NOT APPROVE UNTIL YOU HAVE READ MY EMAIL” in the header.    I wonder what the email said?

Anyway, my points:

  • As a commercial company selling infectious organisms coming from human feces, it is simply good business practice to provide proof of safety to your patients.  You are charging thousands of dollars a person.  The least you could do is a blood test twice a year to prove your donors are free of hepatitis, AIDS, etc.
  • Besides the commercial advantages of providing assurance to your patients, it behooves you to do this for legal reasons.  I was also addressing the emerging DIY movement.   All it would take is one alarmist law suit claiming that  someone got hepatitis  from someone’s whipworms, for example.  If both donor and patient had a few blood tests proving that both were free of hepatitis before infection it would at least help disprove that claim.  (Not to say the worms can pass hepatitis, I am only using this as an example of something someone might try to sue over.)
  • This therapy is very “fringe” at present.  Anything we can do to protect both you and your patients from legal and medical risk is vital to the adoption of the therapy into the mainstream.   We also owe it to the medical community to at least appear like we are trying to be safe and replicating their safety precautions.  I include blood tests to be a basic form of protection.
  • I faced intensive criticism from my doctors when trying this therapy.  They wondered, “how do you know you are getting necator and not ancylostoma?  How do you know you are getting the numbers they say?  How do you know you are not getting any viral or bacterial contaminants?”   Are we expected to answer, “Well, the company can’t prove species or  number or organisms, and only has 2 blood tests 2 years apart, but I trust them.”  It’s hard enough getting our doctors to sanction a therapy that is not FDA approved, doing it without good answers to these questions makes it even harder.
  • The institutions studying hookworms test their resevoir donors.  They also have transparency in that their materials and methods are documented, and their labs are routinely inspected.    The same cannot be said of AIT or wormtherapy.
  • The fact that a mega-analysis (that you payed for) found no evidence of worms being a vector for viral pathogens doesn’t mean that no risk exists. Where are the studies that specifically looked for this?  I found this study that was critized by a  parasitologist on the incubatinghookworms forum that said it was the first study to show that parasites had the potential to act as a vector for pathogens. (different worm, different host)  And it admits that Koch’s hypothesis hasn’t been met, which means, they need to see if the worm that carries a virus or bacteria can transmit that to the next host.  Those studies would definitively prove lack of pathogenicity.  Until then, it’s safe to say “probably” they don’t act as a vector for pathogens, but no one specifically has looked for this.
  • I have never put myself forward as an academic spokesperson.  I am just one patient with Crohn’s disease who decided to try worms, had an excellent reaction, then lost the worms and efficacy.  Because Crohn’s has such terrible consequences I feel it is important to spread the word about the merits of this therapy.   I’m one of the few patients willing to use my name, be interviewed, and go in front of a group of researchers at the BTER foundation and give a talk, facing much criticism.

UPDATE: Jasper has listened to his customers, and is now going to do testing every 2 months, eliminate his infection in case he has anything else to eliminate,  then reinfect with just hookworms and whipworms.  A link to his post with all the details is here.


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