Friday, December 31, 2010

If You Pee in the Shower, You Must Read This

If you're among the millions of people worldwide who don't step out of the shower when it's time to urinate, here's some important information you should share.  You may not want to drip across the bathroom floor, but by not taking it to the toilet, you may be exposing yourself to dangerous bacteria and risking your health! 

Science has long known of the dreaded Candiru (Vandellia cirrhosa), or "Toothpick Fish", a catfish that thrives in the Amazon River.  This fish is a legendary parasite, known for its ability to infect humans.  When a man urinates while standing in the Amazon, the little Candiru catfish follows the taste of the urine stream to the man's penis, where it enters and lodges itself inside the urethra.  Latching on with its razor teeth and proceeding to grow fatter and fatter as it drinks the victim's blood, the Candiru can prove almost impossible to dislodge.  While certain tribal remedies have been in use for millennia, after the fish has grown to a certain size, surgery is necessary, including, potentially, amputation of the penis.

In 2007, scientists at the Kansas Institute of Microbiology announced the discovery of a parasite they named Candirusporis.  Although thousands of times smaller than the Candiru fish, this freshwater parasite enters an animal's body in the same way -- through the urine stream.  Once Candirusporis has entered the urinary tract, it finds a home within the bladder, where it begins to release parasitic spores, causing swelling, severe bleeding and, eventually, infertilization.  Candirusporis was thought prevalent only in nutria and otters, but recently, hospitals across the United States have begun to report an alarming rise in the number of infections in humans.  There may be far more infections than actually reported since many cases are misdiagnosed as other kinds of illness.

Although naturally occurring only in rivers, ponds and swamps, Candirusporis thrives in any warm, humid area -- including your shower.  In 2009, scientists at the University of Boulder warned that many pathogens "clump together in slimy 'biofilms' that cling to the inside of showerheads at more than 100 times the 'background' levels of municipal water."  The American Council for Disease Control -- in an effort to explain the increasing number of Candirusporis cases being reported, and to try to ward off an epidemic -- warns that "any person urinating in the shower may be exposing themselves to this potentially life-destroying parasite".  Candirusporis has been shown in the lab to multiply in soap, wet wash-towels, and on the exterior of plastic bottles.

There's no reason to believe that Candirusporis cannot enter a female host in the same way as it does a male host.  "Last time I checked, women also had urethras and bladders" said a worried-seeming Dr. Frederica Motts, of the ACDC.  "Although I'd be mostly concerned about women who have sex with men who may have a Candirusporis infection.  I would suggest that every woman talk openly with her partner about why he should stop urinating in the shower."

A diet of at least 32 oz (946 ml) of Clementine juice daily is recommended to alter the body's pH so that it becomes a less hospitable environment for Candirusporis.  Symptoms of Candirusporis infection include weak urine stream, dribbling urine, and decreased sexual appetite.  Any pain, tingling or itching when urinating may indicate that the parasite is already present and releasing spores in your bladder.  Discolored, clear or dark urine may also be a sign of infection.  If you are bleeding when urinating, you should seek immediate medical attention.  The parasite can be destroyed with common antibiotics, but if the infection is allowed to go untreated, the antibiotics may have to be injected by needle directly into the bladder. 

Getting out of the shower to urinate may seem like a hassle -- you end up dripping all over the bathroom floor, and the extra effort seems pointless.  But for the sake of public health, the next time you start to think "it'll all go down the drain," consider what might be coming up your urine stream.

--- Morning Cup O' Doom ---


  1. Holy cr*p! I'll have to give up showering or peeing...not sure which...

  2. I've actually read about this thing before and I'm not sure if it's a danger to women.

    But I know a couple of guys who pee in the shower who might just love a vacation along the Amazon River, compliments of me of course. Cuz that's the kind of gal I am. Keri

  3. WOWZA!!! :) I think I'll say "thanks" for enlightening me!

    On the subject of peeing in the shower, I saw this ad actually promoting peeing in the shower while I was in Brazil. Check it out!

    PS - thanks for stopping by to visit me on twitter!

  4. The Candiru fish can enter a human urethra, if the human is swimming in the river, but it's physically impossible for it to actually swim up the urine stream to someone peeing in the river from above it. Just do a Google search for "Candiru" and "myth."

    I highly doubt that a tiny organism like Candiruspora would be any better at accomplishing this impossible feat.

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