Stomach Gone Amok

Stomach Gone Amok

Take-away lunch causes dysentery

We thought it would be cool to try a traditional Cambodian dish from a local restaurant. But it caused a severe case of dysentery which put Michael in the hospital overnight and reinforced the value of travel health insurance.


Getting ill while traveling is always a possibility, so it is good to plan with that in mind, especially on an extended multi continent trip. Overseas, you will be exposed to all types of viruses, bacteria, and parasites. Remember your Hollywood movies kids; 28 days, The Omega Man (1971), The Andromeda Strain (1971), Contagion, etc.

After getting a take-away lunch of Amok (fish, chicken, vegetables with Amok seasoning), it only took two hours before I started to feel very ill. It started with just a stomach pain, but quickly became much more. Within the next hour, my temperature was 102.5 F/39.16 C and getting higher. The onset of chills, cramps, sweating, nausea, and blurry vision was quick. When the uncontrollable diarrhea and vomiting started, I started to contemplate – “hospital.”

The hotel manager called an ambulance and I was taken to Royal Ankgor International Hospital. The doctor diagnosed me as follow upon admission: sunken eyes, dry mouth, dry lips and mucosa, abdomen moderate distended and tender, BS increase. Patient vomited four times with large amount of gastric content, high fever with chills, weakness. But I already knew all this . . .

After 15 hours of IV and a cocktail of antibiotics every four hours, I finally felt good enough to go back to the hotel. The Navutu Dreams staff, especially resident manager, Ms. Reaksmey de Villa d’Avray, went above and beyond. Not only did she call the hospital the next morning to check and make sure I was doing ok, she offered to send food. When I was discharged, she sent an air-conditioned car to pick me up (a big deal because most transport in Siem Reap is by tuk tuk).

I lost ten pounds and it took about four weeks to fully recover. My stomach lining and intestines where obviously damaged and needed time to recover from the infection. Dysentery is very common in Cambodia due to poor hygiene, but the reality is you can get it anywhere in the world, even at home.

Emergency medical insurance reimbursed 100% of the expenses – thank you Brian Boyles with Allianz Global Assistance Travel Insurance..

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