Wednesday, April 26, 2006


In Which We Are Strepped Of All Dignity...


Of course, anyone's who's read this blog for even a few months knows how often illness strikes the Magazine Mansion. In just a casual glance backwards, it seems as though I'm posting about someone being sick--often myself--with a regularity that astonishes even me. Setting aside personal injury and health emergencies not related to viral or bacterial infection, I've blogged about sickness--or while someone else in the house was sick--enough to make it its own sub-entry over in the margin. For instance, there was this post. And this one. And this, this, this, this, this, and this. Plus that one, that one, and that one.

Have I put too fine a point on this?

And you know, it seems like a lot of that sickness involved strep throat, which I guess is common enough if you have kids. I had strep about once a month every winter when I was growing up. In fact, I remember one time my doctor determined that I was a strep carrier. But that all ended--or so I thought--years ago.

But now here we are in the middle of tiny little household pandemic. Starting last month, Thomas had strep, and got over it (we thought), just in time for Her Lovely Self to get it. I avoided it (presumably because I was still recovering from pneumonia and was riding a wave of expensive and powerful antibiotics). But then the Brownie got it.

A few weeks later, when we had relatives visiting for Easter, Thomas got strep again. Then HLS got it again. Then my sister-in-law and nephew reported they had it (only they found out after returning home). Thomas then went on to get the stomach flu but while he was in the middle of that, the Brownie got strep. And that case was weird because she had no symptoms. No sore throat. No fever. It was caught during a regular check-up.

That made me wonder if she or someone else in the house might be a strep carrier, but we all checked out fine. That was last week.

Then, the other morning, I woke up with the old razor-blades-in-the-throat sensation. I peered down my own throat with the aid of a flashlight and a mirror. Looked like a horror movie down there. Good God, was it strep throat? Again?! Why could we not shake this thing? Could it be we had finally reached that point that doctors have always predicted? Could it be we had a strain of streptococcus so powerful that it was resistant to antibiotics? Would we be shunned, consigned to a strep colony on some distant island?

I was in quite a funk about it last night, sitting on the couch, staring out the window. At length I heard the soft padding of feet and Blaze, my faithful hound, who always detects when I'm feeling low, jumped up on the couch and lay next to me. When I refused to pat him or acknowledge him in any way, he nudged me with his cold shnozz and then began licking my face until I had to crack a smile and push him away good-naturedly.

This morning, I came down for coffee, feeling even worse than last night, and had decided to call my doctor to make an appointment for the inevitable throat culture and antibiotics. All around me, the usual morning chaos was well underway. Blaze was up well before me, playing with the kiddos. They were throwing his squeaky ball and he was catching it in midair and returning it to the Brownie, always giving her a big sloppy kiss as he did. At one point, Thomas grabbed the ball from Blaze and--because he's a boy and has a natural predilection for the Gross Out--Thomas put the ball in his own mouth and growled. The Brownie squealed with disgust and delight.

"Oh, yuck!" I cried, using my Dad Voice. "Don't put that in your mouth, Thomas! You'll--"

I froze. You'll get germs had been what I was about to say. And a moment later, coffee slopping across the floor as I hustled to the computer, I was online, searching assorted medical databases for a little factoid I had only dimly remembered.

Apparently, not everyone in the house was cleared as a strep carrier (see #4).

Instead of calling my doctor, I promptly called our vet.

"You think he has strep?" the receptionist asked, somewhat incredulous. "That's not very common in dogs. What are his symptoms?"

"Well, none," I said. "But everyone in my house has been getting strep again and again for the past month and--"

There was a long sigh. "--and you think Blaze is the carrier."

"Yes," I said. "Why? Is there--?"

"Oh, you'll find the vet has an opinion about this. But come on, bring him in. If he does have strep, it's not good for him any more than it is for people. We've got an open slot in about 30 minutes, if that works."

It did. And while I waited, I hunted online more to get additional background on the topic. Apparently, the idea of dogs as strep carriers to humans is quite the, er, bone of contention on certain animal care message boards. There was only one small animal study that claimed to prove the link and while some vets believed it, many vehemently opposed the idea.

Such as my vet.

"It's the most ridiculous theory I've ever heard!" she said to me a half-hour later, as Blaze sat on her exam table, looking up at her with loving eyes as she fed him a doggy treat (they LOVE Blaze at my animal hospital). She softened her expression for a moment. "I don't mean to yell at you, MM. It's just that there's this one small study that purports to prove it, and every winter I get families in here freaking out that their dog is the equivalent of Typhoid Mary, spreading strep to their kids. In some cases, they abandon their pets with us, and that's sad."

"So you're saying there's no way it's biologically possible for Blaze to spread strep? I mean, he's always licking me and the kids--"

She shook her head. "I'm not saying it's impossible. There are plenty of infectious diseases that can spread among species, and dogs can get certain viruses from people. But bacterial infections are less common. There just isn't enough proof."

"Well," I said. "That may be. But as long as I'm here..."

"Of course," she said, and began to ready a long cotton swab. "We can do a culture here in the office and get an answer in just a few minutes."

As she approached Blaze with the swab, I leaned over him and started to pry open his jaws. The vet looked at me.

"What are you doing?"

I looked up at her. "I've seen my kids choke and gag when they get a throat culture. I don't expect Blaze to sit still for this."

The vet laughed. "Oh, honey," she said. "Dogs don’t carry strep in their throats. But you can hold him still for a second." And then, before my astonished eyes, she turned away from Blaze's mouth and aimed the swab for the other opening.

My astonishment, alas, was nothing compared to Blaze's, who leaped and made a startled "ORK!" and looked pretty much like he did that time Thomas ran full-tilt into his rear-end.

Which, just to refresh your memory, looked like this.


I was aghast too. " dogs carry...rectal strep?!?"

The vet nodded as she swabbed the culture in a container or some kind.

"But...but...if they're carriers, how do they give it to people?"

The vet gave me a patronizing look then. "I think you know exactly how they would, if they were carriers," she said. "But he'd have to be, you know, in your face a lot. It's not like you sleep with him every night and let him clean your teeth anything, do you?"

"No, no!" I laughed. "Of course not!"

But I was thinking:


"Well don't worry," she said, patting me on the arm. "I'm sure this will come back negative. I just don't believe dogs can transmit strep that way."

Fifteen minutes later, she was back with a funny look on her face.

"Um, well, it appears Blaze does have rectal strep," she said quietly.


Luckily for the dog, a quick shot in the haunches set him right, but as I drove him home, I felt vaguely ill. How was I going to explain this to Her Lovely Self? To the kids? I usually try to look on the bright side, to laugh off bad news, but there seemed to be no way to spin this in a positive direction. I mean, my entire family has had ass strep. In our throats. From the dog. Where's the silver lining in that?

I pulled into the driveway and brought Blaze in. Her Lovely Self was just back from taking the Brownie to pre-school. "I thought you had a doctor's appointment," she said. "What are you doing with the dog? What's the matter?"

"I think you better sit down for this one," I told her. "I've got some...weird news to tell you, and I have to be totally serious about it."

Her Lovely Self looked alarmed and sat right down. "Oh boy," she said quietly. "This is SO not like you. What is it? You're totally freaking me out. Can't you crack a smile or make some dumb tongue-in-cheek remark?"

"Trust me," I said. "Everything I'm about to tell you is ALL tongue-in-cheek."

From Somewhere on the Masthead

You just had to end that with "tongue in cheek," didn't you? Nasty. Just plain nasty.

And, while cats aren't exactly innocent of licking their nether regions, at least you don't often have a cat covering your face in slobber.

And I'm waiting for Heather to chime in with the dog v cat counterargument.

Don't get me wrong, I do like dogs. I just don't own one. But, then again, I don't own either anymore. Not since my cats died.

Hope your family gets over all this, MM. Including Blaze
Wait a minute. Dogs get their ass??? And that can transfer it to humans? So does your strep cause a sore throat if it's ass strep? I'm confused, intrigued, disgusted and not at all surprised that something so...odd would happen to you.
I cannot look at my dog and not be suspicious now. My son is ALWAYS getting sick. He's more prone to ear infections than strep but he has certainly had his fair share of the latter. And he's always hugging, kissing, licking, etc. on the dog. I'm all kinds of disturbed now.
But I hope you and your family recover soon. Yes, Blaze too.
Best ending ever. Sigh.

Ass strep. Heh.
ASS strep!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

you know, I have learned something new today. I have a new wrinkle in my brain.

ass strep. go figure.
Shannon, I didn't want to spell this out too closely, but just to clear up any confusion, here's the theory:

Strep germs on your face can easily get into your throat.

Strep germs get onto your face when dogs licks you.

Strep germs gets onto dog's tongue when dog licks his ass.

Interestingly, people can also get ass strep, and that will not result in a sore throat, but can result in a sore ass (but I don't even want to know how you get that). Presumably Blaze had similar symptoms, but evidently didn't feel he could share that with us.
EEEEEEWWWWWWWWW man couldn't you have found this out before I got Dog #3? Geez Ass Strep that is just nasty! I'm soooooo glad we haven't had any of that going around but hopefully I will remember this if we do. Oh and I'm not surprised to learn this was happening to you nor that I'd learn something from you either. Thanks for the laugh... I'm glad I wasn't drinking anything when I got to Ass Strep!
I am positively erupting in a fit of giggles right now that I can barely contain!

I have a cat.

She takes care of her business.

I don't remember the last time I had strep.

Cats rule! ;)
Oh, good. Something else for me to be convinced I can get...! Seriously -- ass strep -- that's classic.
Thanks for the vomit warning, and the laugh. Poor Blaze, he's probably been walking around feeling all yucky and you never knew it.
There’s been a debate in our house. What exactly, is the opposite to “Hawesome!” Well, now we know, Hawesome’s evil twin is... ass strep.

“Dude, how was your blind date?”
“ass strep”
T front: how bad?

Yes! Screw that hawesome stuff! this works in almost any part of speech:

"Man, you're due for a serious case of ass strep now!"

"Dude, we went to the party and it was serious ass strep."

"Our team tried to rally, but we totally got ass strepped."

And forget "ass wipe." From now on, i'm calling you by a new name.

So, shut up, you little ass strep.

Where's Stu? Man, he's GOT to weigh in here!
BB, hilarious comment there., I don't know what to say! Get better soon, and I hope you can manage to shield the truth from your kids as much as you can. Don't tell your neighbors the whole story or word will get to their respective schools that they caught a disease from a dog's butt.
Something tells me this is definitely a symptom of being born under a bad sign...
Oh, MM, that's just... ugh. At least you got to the bottom (yeah, I know) of this epidemic. As for you, I've found gargling Listerine works even better than salt water for calming sore throats.

Hope you're all feeling better soon!
Wow. Really. Wow.

I mean, the comedy for this is exponentially gihugic. It's the kind of thing that will leave you with the comedy mark of Cain. You should have a ball cap that has a big yellow A S on it, and a windbreaker that says "ASS STREP - Keep Back 300 Feet"... There's a Family Guy episode in this, possibly that would include a musical number. Also, what about The Brownie's version, Ass Stripe? Or is that Striped Ass? Maybe a t-shirt for Blaze that says "I gave my entire family Ass Strep and all I got was this lousy t-shirt"... Another idea I had was of a preventative nature, where you put one of those big white cones around Blaze's behind, like a mini-skirt.
You have to be making this up. I mean, things like this just don't happen. Well, they don't happen to the rest of us, anyway. Thanks for taking on all the nasty mojo and keeping it away from the rest of the world. We appreciate it.
"That's why I never kiss 'em on the mouth."

Which ought to separate out all the Firefly fans...
Your Vet is funny:

"I'm not saying it's impossible."

She obviously doesn't know you very well.

Ass Strep just became the bottom of my Awesomeness/Suckiness scale.
Wow, am I an infamous dog lover? :D That's pretty cool.

Here's the requisite "dogs are better" comment, then:

Dogs might give you their ass strep, but at least they love you rather than tolerate you.

(You know, I actually don't have any pets.

(I did have dogs and cats growing up, though.)

Best wishes to everyone at the Magazine Mansion.
roh, and touche to you Wood.

Jayne always has the nugget of wisdom at just the right moment.
Okay, I can't stop laughing when I look at the closeup of Blaze, especially considering its placement in this post.

It's like a train crash. I have to look.
I think you'd better go out and rent that rug shampooer again. Didn't you say something about Blaze dragging his ass around on the carpet spreading his "ASS STREP" love?

I think you, once again, started a new word phenomenon. I know I will use it: "How are your neighbors?" "They're still nothing but a bunch of ASS STREP!"
I don't know about you, but my dog licks everything! So if he is dragging ass around the house, and licking every pillow, bedsheet, etc., then we have to have our house sterilized. Or better yet, we should just get a job with the El Dorado cigarette company and have the entire house coated with a micro-film of Teflon.
Growing up I was called the Strep Throat Kid. It makes me shudder and slighly gag to think it could have been Ass-Strep as I always preferred dogs/cats to human company...oh God, here comes that GAG again :0

Thanks an ass-strep-pant-load MM- but I do hope you/family/pet feel better soon :)
ASS STREP!!!! OH MY GOSH!!! I almost fell off my chair. Of course your family has ass strep, they couldn't just have good ole ho hum strep throat.

I'm going to have to wait to tell my husband this story until after I get my own dog or else he's going to hold this ass strep story over my head ;)
Well, that explains why I had strep so often as a kid! My mom blamed it on my best friend.
Well, when I started reading this post, I was thinking, "If MM and I ever meet, I'll have to think twice about shaking his hand since my voice IS my job. Can't have strep."

By the end of the story, I was laughing so much I think I did my throat an injury anyway.

Ass Strep! OMG.
Something just occured to me - when you were moaning to Blaze about the neighbors with the bunny and the birds - BLAZE GAVE THEM ASS STREP BY PEEING ALL OVER THEIR RUGS!

He DID know what he was doing!
OMG Madeline!! That comment about Blaze and the devil-bunny parents being awarded AssStrep makes me want to reread all of the Blaze posts. It's like The Crying Game: Once you see the ending, you want to watch the whole movie again to see it through different eyes.
And I was hoping that the strep I somehow caught this week was a virtual infection. You know, that I somehow got strep from reading this blog.
I'm never dog sitting my in-laws' mutt again
I think my personal favorite part was the image of you watching Thomas put the saliva, ass-strep covered ball in his mouth...and then a *DING* light bulb going off over your head, as in the cartoons..

Somehow, I was not grossed out when I read the original post, but sassygirl, that totally did it.

eww. just. yuck.

hope everyone feels better soon.

gotta say, my cat licks me and now it's totally creepin' me out. uck, uck, uck.
Oh My God. We have a Thomas. And a dog. With an ass. I'm shaking my head in disbelief, but Thomas and I have had strep 8 times during my pregnancy with him, and after he was born - a span of about 18 months total. Oh boy. That is NASTY. We stopped getting strep once we all started seeing the chiropractor though. I have no idea why. I love your blog though - you're a riot! (I'm here from BlogHer)
Oh wow. I'm dying... and I'm so glad I don't have a dog.

I also came over from Blogher!
Gross! And to think that I touched your blog. That's sick, dude. Really sick.
I'll be back after I wipe my screen with anti-bacterial soap....
It makes me think of a scene from "Shock Treatment" where she's going on about Dead Pets. "I have never seen a dog like Lady. She was such a good dog up until the last three months of her life when she was shitting and farting all over the house. She was Lady."
OMG! I got here from Crouching Mommy, and this is by turns the most gross and yet funniest story I have read in a long time.

I am sorry it happened to you, but really glad it hasn't happened to me!
Brilliant. Congratulations on your Perfect Post Award. You deserve it.
OMG!! I was reading through this thinking it was quite clever and very sweet (we have 3 kids and 2 dogs & a lot of germs). Often times, I come up with my own ideas of where illnesses came from and I click on my bookmarked WebMD and do a little surfing. But Ass Strep?? Holy hell...I am seriously laughing my butt off. Not at you - of course - but seriously laughing.

I hope you all recover quickly and am quite glad you were able to um...nip this in the bud.

Congrats on a very, very well deserved award.
I did a rapid strep test, at home, on my dog, with a human test kit, yes, in her backside, after reading this and several other things. We have been having problem with strep too. The test was positive. I took her to the vet for a culture. He took her in the back and tested her. I didn't see this. Got the results today. Negative. I aske how she was tested. Answer--in the mouth. According to the tech, I was pretty much out of my mind to request a culture of the backside. What do I do now? Does my dog have strep or not? Is she passing it to the family (3 out of 4 of us have strep right now)?
Okay, I found my way here via a totally different route. My 6yo daughter has ass strep! Your site came up in a search. Just FYI, the doc says it is the same as regular strep, just as contagious, that you can get it from someone who has strep throat (and, obviously, vice versa) and that someone who catches strep from her could get either type. I thought today was as bad as it could get watching my precious baby get swabbed from both ends (plus a flu shot!) but you win.

I will have to have the dog checked out, although he is not mouthy. I will also have to bookmark this site, because this is the first time I've laughed all day.

Get well soon.
OH dear sweet science...I am back at work today after my recent bout with strep throat. I have a lovely little 10 month old pug puppy and he loves to get all in my face. I also have an itchy ass but my gynecolist told me it was my PH that made me have a little itchiness about my ass. My boyfriend will be happy to know we are never having sex again. :)
Do me a fave? Ask that bastion of unbiased veterinary knowledge if she knows whether or not RABBITS can carry any sort of orifice-related strep bacteria...

I also arrived at this site by googling rectal strep - because my son has it - and I am laughing hysterically! My daughter gets strep throat and has a case right now, and for some reason the strep always settles in my son's rear end instead. The pediatrician said this happens to some people. But I am looking at my dachshund a little suspiciously now thanks to the blog! That is so disgusting, but thanks for the interesting info, and great laughs! Just FYI, ass strep causes extreme itching and pussy blistering that is the equivalent of pinworms says the pediatrician. It also causes a rash on their upper bodies. Not fun - hope it goes away soon!
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