PERTH – An Australian couple have made headlines after claiming a debilitating parasite, buried itself deep inside their intestines, after eating Pad Thai during a family holiday in Phuket.
Stacey Barnes, 32, and her husband Ryan Prigg, 39, who built a successful personal well-being business, say they had their own health and happiness ripped from them after a parasite buried itself deep inside their intestines.
They told told news.com.au. they have spent the past two years fighting off a bug they picked up in a Thai food court, during the luxury family getaway in 2017.
The parasite allegedly in their Pad Thai wreaked havoc on their bodies, leaving them feeling “like zombies”, unable to get out of bed and eventually forcing them to close their booming motivational business.
The couple told media they struggled to look after their two children and almost lost their lucrative health and lifestyle business.
The young family departed Perth in July for a three-week “working holiday” in a six-star accommodation in Kata Beach.
According to Stacey, the first few days in Kata Beach were “heaven” with sightseeing, hiking and swimming in their private pool attached to their villa.
“Everything was perfect, we didn’t eat on the streets or go anywhere risky, everything seemed perfect,” she said.
During a trip to Phuket, Stacey and Ryan decided to drop into an up-market shopping center and grab a bite to eat.
“They had this pristine food court, it looked just like a brand new one in Australia would, it wasn’t a dingy place at all,” Stacey said.
They ordered Pad Thai — a popular Thai stir-fried noodle dish — for about $6 a plate and devoured it.
“It was so good, we actually ordered another one,” she recalled.
Back at the hotel that night, they suddenly started feeling extremely ill.
“Ryan and I both came down with fevers, we knew something wasn’t right,” Stacey said.
“It was really cold in the hotel room and I was sweating and had the shakes, it was just terrible.”
What they didn’t know then, was the tiny parasite — known as Dientamoeba fragilis — had buried itself in their intestines, and would soon destroy their health and the business they had worked so hard to build.
As Stacey and Ryan’s health continued to deteriorate that evening, the couple made the decision to pack up their family and “get out of there”.
“We had our kids to think about and we just freaked out, we couldn’t look after them if we both got really sick so we had to leave,” Stacey said.
They paid for the next flight out of the country and returned home, gravely ill and more frantic than ever to find out what was wrong with them.
Stacey and Ryan finally found a doctor who specialized in intestinal parasites and this was when they finally found answers.
They were diagnosed with Dientamoeba fragilis and prescribed strong courses of antibiotics, blood transfusions, vitamin supplements and probiotics.
Stacey described their recovery as “a complete transformation”.
“Once we had the infusion, it was like someone had switched us back on and we were ourselves again,” she said.
Now working on building their business back up, Stacey said they had decided their next trip would probably be to Europe.
Stacey said “We won’t go back to Asian countries again, but I want people to be aware that these things can and do happen.”
She encouraged people who aren’t feeling well after a trip abroad to get checked out immediately.