The Phoenix

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Genetic Disorder Puts The "Oh" in "Odor"

In elementary school, we had a class bully named Lonnie. I was new to the school, and on the first day in my new classroom, I was told to stay away from him. It seems not only was Lonnie physcially imposing and had no problem letting everyone else know it, but the kid smelled bad. He smelled awful.

He smelled like nasty, rotting fish.

It was the one thing that could make the king of our 1st grade mole hill into just a gopher. Somebody would just have to say something like, "Lonnie, did you shower in dog poop?" or "You smell like a fart." I called him a "Fish Head." It was the one way to escape his wrath, as Lonnie the bully would be so embarassed and just walk away.

Lonnie isn't the only one who suffers from smelling like fresh ass 24/7. It seems people all over the world have been suffering from this terrible condition, called Trimethylaminuria or TMAU. It's a metabolic disorder, and people with this condition smell Gawd-awful no matter what they do.

Someone with TMAU lacks a certain enzyme that breaks down trimethylamine. The body therefore releases this chemical via skin pores, mouth, or bodily fluids. Trimethylamine also happens to smell strongy of rotting fish.

Camille, the subject of an ABC News story and online video, is a former model and beauty queen. She also smells like decomposing fishies. Unfortunately, her job also puts her in very close proximity to little kids. Camille is a teacher.

"They would say things like, 'Ew, this classroom stinks like dead fish.' They would call me 'Miss Fishy.' I didn't know why I was emitting such a strong odor. I mean, it can fill an entire room. Recently, it filled an auditorium."

I'm hot for teacher...NOT!

One of her first jobs was at a bank. Her terrible smell haunted her there as well. "My supervisor would come by and spray my area with perfume, Lysol, and they put me in the drive-through section, which is separate from the rest of the teller area," Camille said.

TMAU is extremelly rare, with only 600 documented cases in the world. The first official case was written about in the 1970s, but if you go through all of world literature, you'll find references to people smelling like rotten fish:

"What have we here? A man or a fish? Dead or alive? He smells like a fish; a very ancient and fish-like smell . . ." — William Shakespeare, "The Tempest."

Even an ancient Hindu tale describes a maiden who "grew to be comely and fair, but a fishy odor ever clung to her."

Damn that's gross. Something IS rotten in Denmark for sure.

There is no cure for TMAU currently. However, there are special diets patients can adopt to help minimize the severity of the fishiness. Chlorophyl tablets have been known to help those with the stank emanating from their mouths. Scientists hope to do more research and figure out a way to help those lacking that special enzyme that breaks down trimethylamine.

So Lonnie, wherever you are, I am so sorry for having teased you. I should've been a better person and understood your plight. Now I understand why you were such a bully. And for mashing my PB&J sandwich back in 1979, I hope you smell like an unwashed crusty anus for the rest of your life. Jerk.


Blogger Mr. Friendly said...

Let me know what you think of my theory:
1.) There is an outbreak of "fish head" disease in Mumbai and Bangalore. Pandemic might be a better characterization.

2.) US increases H1B visa quotas and starts drawing exclusively from universities in, you guessed it, Mumbai and Bangalore.

Like I said, it is but a theory.

8/23/2006 6:31 AM  
Blogger The Phoenix said...

I think our country is great because of Her diversity. The number of different cultures brought together truly makes our Nation unqiue.

My parents are immigrants to this great country.

That being said, I don't see how smelling like a musty unwashed crotch can be socially acceptable.

To reek of a mix of feces, eggs, and old cottege cheese??? Not acceptable. An odor caused by a build up of bacteria in the armpits and crotch area is NOT clean.

Try a little Arm & Hammer...actually, they should try A LOT of Arm & Hammer.

8/23/2006 6:53 AM  
Blogger Denny Shane said...

Thank you Phoenix... now I am paranoid. Snif... snif... geez, I just took a shower too.

8/23/2006 7:30 AM  
Blogger grrrbear said...

You think we've got it bad, think of what it must feel like to be a young fish growing up in a school surrounded by other fish heads, all smelling like a collection of fish heads together.

Or, maybe in fish the problem morphs into fish that smell like dead humans.

Either way it'd be just as bad.

8/23/2006 8:03 AM  
Blogger Karen said...

never heard of TMAU before. i'll havta keep that in mind if i smell something that bad.

Welcome Back, Phoenix! :-)

8/23/2006 8:21 AM  
Blogger OnMyWatch said...

TMAU? Didn't they sing that song, Heart & Soul? ;)

Obviously, the perfect job for a person like this would be to own a tackle/bait shop.

8/23/2006 8:56 AM  
Blogger The Phoenix said...

denny, I'm sure you smell April fresh.

grrbear, I think the smell of anything decomposing is horrible. Poor Nemo.

karen, It's great to be back!

onmywatch, T'Pau rawks! "Heart and Soul" is one of my all time 80s pop favorites. Maybe Camille should be a sushi chef.

8/23/2006 9:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yay you're back! ~phew~

That picture of the guy licking his armpit has totally turned me off my yogurt. Thanks.

8/23/2006 9:41 AM  
Blogger Grafs said...

I didn't know this condition existed! Blech...Just another reason to feel lucky in life.

8/23/2006 10:31 AM  
Blogger BrianAlt said...

Makes sense to me.

I guess another option is to just get a job on a fishing boat. Then if someone thinks it's you, just point to the fish. Then again, no one would ever think it was you.

And, welcome back.

8/23/2006 10:33 AM  
Blogger Ben said...

OMG I'm sure the guy I used to sit next to in class had that. He stunk of fish all the time.

Infact when he left school his only course of action was to go and work at a fish processing plant.

At least he had an excuse. I can't remember his real name, but everybody used to call him Gilly

8/23/2006 10:41 AM  
Blogger mad said...

Lately, the whole world smells.

8/23/2006 10:50 AM  
Blogger Mimi said...

I am sure a girl in my school had that! She always smelled nasty like she was on the rag! It was overwhelmingly awful!

8/23/2006 11:07 AM  
Blogger angel, jr. said...

Is it only the women who smell like fish, cause I think that's a completely different problem altogether.

8/23/2006 11:13 AM  
Blogger DaBich said...

You know, I've come across some rather smelly people. I always assumed some of them had a medical problem that they smelled the way they did. Now I know what one of them is! Interesting. But stink is still stink :X

8/23/2006 11:40 AM  
Blogger Jon Cox said...

Oh WOW!!! Weird & grose but great post!!! :o) I'm glad you're back & that you like my paintings! :o) I would love to paint the arch, too bad I don't have any canvas left but when I do, I'll for sure try it! ;o) Thank you again! :o)

8/23/2006 12:07 PM  
Blogger Jim said...

it would explain why I get so much cologne as presents

8/23/2006 12:31 PM  
Blogger Fated said...

I have actually heard of this. I could not even imagine having to deal with such a thing. You would have to walk around with baking soda in your pockets and deodorant duct taped under your shirt.

Think these people have a hard time finding mates? Even if you go for the really drunk ones, they can still smell :S

8/23/2006 12:39 PM  
Blogger The Phoenix said...

jenna, Sorry about that. It makes me pretty ill too. That's why I picked it.

grafs, Rejoice you don't have such an affliction.

brianalt, Or you could become a marine biologist. Just gotta be careful pelicans don't swoop down and decapitate you.

ben, "Gilly?" Oh man. Kids can be so damn cruel.

8/23/2006 1:18 PM  
Blogger The Phoenix said...

mad, There's a haiku there...

mimi, She could have easily been just not very clean. It's possible.

angel, Nope - it strikes both men and women. I'm not even going to talk about women smelling like fish.

jon, I think the Arch would be a great monument to paint.

jim, Have any Hai Karate???

fated, It must be incredibly tough for them to date. As humans, we're programmed to stay away from such a smell. It helps keeps us healthy and from eating spoiled food. It's an instinct, and the sense of smell is so closely wired to the emotional part of the brain.

8/23/2006 1:21 PM  
Blogger David Amulet said...

Actually, the science is misguided on this one.

The cause of this odor is NOT genetic. In fact, rumors have it the odor can be traced to the use of one of Britney Spears' perfumes, "Curious" or "Fantasy."

-- david

8/23/2006 1:54 PM  
Blogger Jim said...

you mean my "kar-ah-tay"

8/23/2006 2:11 PM  
Anonymous Lonnie said...

Thanks man.

8/23/2006 2:22 PM  
Blogger The Phoenix said...

David, I think Brittany's perfumes smell OK. It's K-Fed's cologne that scares me..."Sugar Mama"

jim, Yes...that is correct Daniel Son.

lonnie, I thought maybe your house smelled like shit, but your older brother smelled perfectly normal. Even he was baffled as to your malodorousness.

But that's no excuse for pretending to know karate and mashing my lunch that one autumn day.

8/23/2006 2:42 PM  
Blogger KC said...

How horrible! I've never encountered any one who smells like that, but now if I do I will know why I am pinching my nose closed. Thanks!

8/23/2006 3:10 PM  
Blogger Tim said...

Yes, and this will "help" my overly sensitive sense of smell . . .

8/23/2006 4:00 PM  
Anonymous the weirdgirl said...

How awful! I feel bad for those who have to go through that. The closest experience I can come to this is an ex-boss who had the worst bad breath I have ever encountered. She could fill up a room. Closed door meetings were a nightmare!

I'd feel bad for her too, but she was a bitch.

8/23/2006 5:10 PM  
Blogger O Ceallaigh said...

Actually, there was a physics prof in my college who was famous for his brilliance, his student-friendliness, and his BO. Which was also impervious to personal hygiene. This odor was closer to gym socks than rotting fish, so it might have been something other than trimethylaminuria. We coped.

And then there is garlic. Resistance is futile ...

8/23/2006 5:20 PM  
Blogger vani said...

hahahahaha!! my hubby cant smell. isn't that weird? u should research this for me and find out why...don't worry, i still wash and put perfume on! lol...but sometimes i'll set off one of those silent but deadly farts and he has no clue..LMAO!

8/23/2006 8:05 PM  
Blogger Keshi said...


**2.) US increases H1B visa quotas and starts drawing exclusively from universities in, you guessed it, Mumbai and Bangalore.

Quite a racist comment there Mr.Not-so-friendly. Not a nice thing to say when u dont know ur facts! Just cos u were raised up to be racist, u dont have to stink in blogs too.

Thanks Phoneix for putting him in his place. Ignorant ppl stink and it's funny how they themselves don't know that!


8/23/2006 9:03 PM  
Blogger Carmel said...

I always make sure that I smell good.
That guy licking his armpit is so gross lol.
I'm glad you are back.

8/23/2006 9:06 PM  
Blogger Scarlett said...

How horrible - scent can be a very powerful turn on - or off. I feel sorry for anyone who has to go through life like that.

The armpit smelling guy is disgusting....

8/23/2006 9:14 PM  
Blogger :P fuzzbox said...

The smell is emenating from my monitor. Thanks.

8/23/2006 10:07 PM  
Blogger Curare_Z said...

There's one other option for employment for people with this condition:

Trainer at Sea World.

8/24/2006 8:32 AM  
Blogger Sherri said...

Oh my! I knew someone who smelled horrible as well! I always thought it was because they were poor.

8/24/2006 8:46 AM  
Blogger The Phoenix said...

KC, think that would make it a little obvious???

tim, maybe you should carry little sticks of cotton balls to shove up your nose.

WG, that's just either poor oral hygiene or plain halitosis. I had a teacher that could curl your toes everytime she came over to help you.

OC, gym socks? Dear Lord...that's just plain body odor.

8/24/2006 9:16 AM  
Blogger The Phoenix said...

keshi, i don't think mr. friendly is being racist. i think it's more of a cultural clash. i sold my car to a nice young couple with H1B visas. They didn't smell so fresh to me, however.

I think when you make a new home in a new place, there are certain things you are going to have to assimilate to a certain degree in order to make friends, be successful, and become part of the community.

If I were to have to work and live in Bangalore, I would have to adjust my body odor as well. I would want to in order to not just simply fit in, but become a real part of the culture and society.

So I believe people that come here should not smell offensive, as that's the number one way to NOT make friends.

8/24/2006 9:20 AM  
Blogger The Phoenix said...

carmel and scarlett, it is amazing how powerful an emotion one can create via sense of smell. I'm glad you like the weirdo licking his pits.

fuzz, scratch and sniff!

curare, Good one! I just hope the dolphin doesn't mistake the trainer for a fish and eat him.

sherri, Who knows - it probably was just body odor and the guy couldn't afford deodorant.

8/24/2006 9:22 AM  
Blogger Etchen said...

Eeeewwww...I think there was a guy in my class who had the same disorder. Ick.

8/24/2006 11:03 AM  
Anonymous starbender said...

hahaaaa... It's Thursday....
You should have thrown in

I think Every School has a STINKY-KID!

8/24/2006 12:56 PM  
Blogger erika said...

Ummm I wonder what kind of disease makes you smell like beer all the time?

8/24/2006 2:08 PM  
Blogger ozymandiaz said...

I went to school with a girl who smelled like dead fish all of the time.

8/24/2006 2:47 PM  
Blogger The Phoenix said...

etchen, it seems lots of kids are smellin' up the schools all over.

star-bender, right. Like Pig-Pen.

erika, that's called "alcoholism."

ozy, what did you all call her? "Sans Douche?"

8/24/2006 2:54 PM  
Blogger MIA said...

phoenix, after posting on my blog and seeing my boyfriend, i guess you understand why i don't see this as a problem.

8/24/2006 7:10 PM  
Blogger phlegmfatale said...

ew, poor fishy people.

8/24/2006 9:52 PM  
Blogger Phats said...

HA this was a very interesting post. I think every school has at least one kid that smells like fish right?

Nuttina and I went to HS where people would put soap and shampoo in this one girls locker. Kids can be so mean!

8/24/2006 10:42 PM  
Blogger Jay said...

How many times was the word 'stank' used in the official research document?

8/25/2006 2:47 AM  
Blogger phred said...

I once knew a girl that smelled like a FISH.

8/25/2006 6:04 AM  
Blogger Stacy The Peanut Queen said...

I saw that ABC news recport...and it was so sad! How awful to have something like that wrong with you!

And that very first picture almost made me retch...YUCK!


8/25/2006 6:45 AM  
Blogger Laurie said...

LOL @ David A!

I've never heard of that condition, but in my line of work I have smelled some of the most horrid smells ever... one of the pitfalls (no pun intended) of the medical field.

I suppose that these folks would be popular with cats.

8/25/2006 9:40 AM  
Blogger Jamie Dawn said...

Maybe those coral pills from that "doctor" in your previous post would cure this condition.

What a hitonious thing!!!!!

8/26/2006 1:54 PM  
Blogger Keshi said...

Phoenix mate thats how u see his comment. But it's not how I see it.

Anyways he has to think that if ppl like him had brains, there wouldnt have been immigrants to his country in the first place.

Branding ppl by country/city/culture is RACIST.


8/26/2006 7:19 PM  
Blogger Gun InMyMouth said...

jokes about employment options and smart remarks about cotton balls. are all the ommentors here adults??

seems like the same childhood ignorance that has me suicidal today.

i thought people would grow up and learn that the plight of others is not for their amusment.

I guess I was wrong....

8/28/2006 9:54 PM  
Blogger ObilonKenobi said...

It wasn't me, I swear. I never have or will go by the nickname Lonnie. (Give me your lunch money, punk!)

8/30/2006 12:35 PM  

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