Chris Packham talks challenging health issue behind-the-scenes which causes him to vomit
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Naturalist Chris Packham, 59, has spoken out about the “extreme” side effects of contracting amoebic dysentery while working overseas. Speaking exclusively to Express.co.uk ahead of the RSPCA Young Photographer Awards’ 30th anniversary, the presenter said it had caused him to projectile vomit.
Earlier this year, Chris’ Waterhole: Africa’s Animal Oasis co-star Ella Al-Shamahi fell ill after contracting African tick-bite fever while in East Africa.
While the presenter said his co-star is now fine, he went on to recall his own health issues which have occurred during filming.
He said: “I’ve had amoebic dysentery a couple of times which is pretty shocking, that’s a gastro intestinal parasite which gets in with dramatic and debilitating results.
“I’ve had that a couple of times, picked up from food obviously or lack of hygiene in food preparation or something overseas. That’s challenging.
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“In the long-term, basically by the time you finish treating it, you’ve destroyed your gut for a while.
“You know we have bacterias in our stomach that are meant to be there? They’ve all gone, so you have to rebuild them, so it takes a while to get over it.
“You have a sort of not too comfortable period for a while, even though you’re over the disease because you’re trying to rebuild your gut from scratch really.”
He went on to say: “The main side effects are not particularly pleasant, it’s mainly projectile vomiting and extreme diarrhoea.
“When I say extreme, I mean ferocious, one of the things will be if you don’t get treatment you get dehydration because you can’t keep anything down or anything in, so dehydration is a real issue.”
Thankfully Chris recognised the symptoms early on in occasions and was treated within 24 hours.
“It’s taken me a few days to get over it, it’s been rough, you don’t want to know the details, it’s just explosive.”
Recalling one particular moment, the presenter said he suffered from the infection during a trip to Kathmandu.
The host was booked to present at a festival and, like a trooper, decided to continue with his duties despite feeling unwell.
“I just had to carry on,” he revealed.
“I was well armed with polyethylene bags, thankfully it was one of those festivals where they throw paint, I was just orange as I had all paint over me.”
Chris went on to say experiencing amoebic dysentery hasn’t put him off any jobs, but admitted he is “conscious” of the likes of ticks following his co-star’s fever.
He added: “It’s nothing you can easily protect yourself from, when we were there making Waterhole there were ticks everywhere.
“If you’re out in that environment they’re onto you.”
Waterhole: Africa’s Animal Oasis continues tonight at 8pm on BBC Two.
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