Dean Adlish Helps Treat Patients with Tropical Diseases in Peru

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John Adlish

By Iginio Hernandez

Treating tropical diseases in the Amazon is a passion of John Adlish, a dean at College of Southern Nevada, who spent the past decade helping patients in Peru.

Adlish spoke about his experiences during a recent Postcards from Abroad presentation on Sept. 21 at the Charleston campus. He shared his stories about everyday life in Peru noting the authentic cuisine and canoe trips he took to remote villages along the river. Most importantly, he shared stories of his work assisting physicians in the region to treat disease-stricken patients.

Adlish made countless trips to the town of Iquitos to treat tropical diseases such as dengue fever, a debilitating mosquito-borne virus that can be fatal if not treated properly.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report dated June 2014, approximately 40 percent of the world population live in areas where there is a risk of dengue transmission including Peru. “The World Health Organization estimates that 50 to 100 million infections occur yearly,” according to same report.

Dengue is more common in Iquitos than other places in Peru because of the city’s location in the Amazon basin, which makes it difficult for people to receive treatment in many instances. This is a reason why Adlish’s work there makes a difference.

One experience that Adlish recalled involved a woman and her two children who walked for eight hours from remote areas in the jungle in 100-degree temperatures to seek medical help for malaria.

At the time, Adlish was supervising students from Truckee Meadows Community College who participated in Global in Diagnostic Disease Education, an organization that focuses on the education of pre-medical and nursing students as well as humanitarian relief in the Amazon.

Adlish recalled how the students responded lovingly to the mom and two kids. The students bought bottles of water for them, which were received with such gratitude after they had traveled all day in high heat.

“In Peru, the students can interact more closely with physicians than they can here,” Adlish said. “They can go to a country where they see firsthand that people are really suffering from different diseases.”

Adlish shared other stories about patients suffering from parasites. Some of the images he showed during his talk made audience members cringe.

Adine Stormoen, adjunct instructor at Truckee Meadows, went with Adlish on his recent trip. She helped collect information on patients and filled out forms. “There was never any doubt that I would be going to Peru,” she said.

“It is important to step outside of your comfort zone from time to time; otherwise, you run the risk of missing out on some truly amazing experiences,” Stormoen added.

Bette Brickman, professor at CSN who attended the event, said Adlish’s discussion made her realize how fortunate we are in America. “It really made me think that we are so lucky to have the level of medicine that we have here.”

Brickman helps organize Postcards from Abroad. She said the series was created for students to gain an understanding of the world. The next event is Oct. 20 featuring Emily Rafael, who will speak on volunteer work in Pacuare, Costa Rica.

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