Sunday, August 24, 2008

Parasites!

Today I met with Tatsuya who is the organiser of the Museum Meet-up group. Instead of art we were off to the Meguro Parasitological Museum. There were six of us to meet, and I had previously met Mitsui, a woman who had recently returned from 4 years in Thailand. The new people were a photographer/English teacher, an engineer of English/Canadian/American living, with his wife Masako and their 2 yr old who was asleep.
The Museum is a short walk from the station over the Meguro River bridge, and is housed in a 7 storey building with research labs on 3-7 floors and the museum on the first two. The first floor presents a general overview of parasites, while the second focuses on the life cycle showcasing 300 specimens. There were lots of people there, often shuddering at the sight of the effect of some of the parasites, as well as the look of them. I must admit after a while I started to feel a little queasy.
There are 8 endemic parasite diseases in Japan, Liver flukes etc as well as a disease I had not heard of Creeping disease. Refers to the parasite creeping along under the skin!
There was also a list of diseases of the world like Tse Tse fly (sleeping sickness). The only endemic parasite disease in Aust. according to the map is Dengue fever, isolated to the whole top of Australia.
Mitsui said if she had been here first she would never have gone to Thailand!!
The museum design and layout was very nice but with displays only in Japanese or Latin., bt we had handy translators in the group! The highlight of the exhibition is an 8m tape worm. They had a piece of tape hanging beside it so you could see how long that is!
All the exhibits come from hospitals around Japan. There was also information about some of the breakthroughs they had made on diagnosis and life cycles. Some of the charts I recognise from school!!
I resisted buying a t-shirt with a tapeworm design!
We finished off with a cleansing ale at the cafe over the road!

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