Monday, April 14, 2014

A serious seriel killer

Africa at its best!

Sunset over East Africa with a bird (in this case a Marabou Stork) flying across the sinking sun. What could be more beautiful?

I love Africa and feel blessed to be living in beautiful Tanzania for most of the year. The weather is perfect, the people are friendly and helpful and the birds and wildlife make our hobby of wandering through the bush at regular intervals, most enjoyable!

Yet, this summer there has been a dark and sinister lurking and striking out at people right across the board!

Over the past two weeks people in our company have contracted malaria at a rate of knots! First it was Edward Askari's wife; next it was chef Constantine from WDL (not our company, but the Client, yet still close to home). On Friday last week Nestor, a mechanical technician from the Philippines was diagnosed with malaria and had to be hospitalized. That same morning, I 'd seen Dr Leonard and he put me on a course of injections against the disease! 

Meanwhile Johan, the maintenance manager, put himself to bed in the cottage behind our house. By Sunday Grant convinced him to have tests; he did and was diagnosed positive with malaria and put on a course of injections; he went back to work while have this treatment. 

Every day at 12 noon I reported to the hospital for my injections. On Sunday Grant asked me to pop in and see how Nestor was doing. I did and found him pale and weak but being cared for very well by the hospital staff. He was on a glucose drip to combat the nausea that he was experiencing and a drip which contained quinine. I inquired whether he needed any food or drink but he pointed to the mixed juice and several bottles of water on the bedside cabinet. He also said that he had had a small amount of rice (Filipinos love rice)  the night before so he was OK. After chatting with him for a few minutes, I told him I would pop in again the next day. Grant arranged with Chef Paulo to make up a bowl of sliced watermelon and whole small bananas, cover it with cling film and take it up to Nestor in the hospital. I visited Nestor on Monday again and by Tuesday he had been discharged with a clean bill of health. 

No sooner had this expat returned to camp, when Johan woke with terrible nausea and drove himself to the hospital. He was admitted and placed on a drip of glucose and quinine. While Grant had his lunch in the Guest House dining room, I dished a plate of roast meat, rice, vegetables and gravy for Johan. Grant suggested I make up a dessert bowl of fruit salad and ice-cream as well. After lunch we drove up to the hospital to drop off Johan's meal and also see how he was. 

While there, a little lad was crying piteously in a bed up the ward. Once we'd we'd said goodbye to Johan, we walked back up the ward. I stopped beside the bed where the little boy was crying. I asked the bewildered-looking man standing next to the bed,  what the matter was with the boy. He said he'd had an operation and pointed to his right hip. He looked about 12 years old so I surmised he'd had an appendix operation. Nevertheless, the little guy was crying loudly now and throwing his head from side to side. I gently rubbed his arm and spoke quietly to him in Swahili. He stopped long enough to open his eyes, then turned away and started to cry again. I told the man (whom I thought might be his father) to speak to the child quietly, touch him softly and say his name often. He said he would.

When I got outside the ward, Grant was standing in the corridor talking to Dr Leonard and the WDL safety officer, Sixtus . We all chatted a while longer and Grant and I left. Johan was discharged from hospital the next day and by Saturday he was his old self again. 

As you all heard from Ambrose yesterday, I had a relapse (on Wednesday afternoon) and ended up at the doctor again on Saturday. After several tests which proved negative, Dr Leonard said I still had a slight viral infection and needed to rest and take in fluids until I felt better. 

On Sunday I awoke feeling a little groggy but for the first time in ten days,  not at all feverish. I showered, blow-dried my hair, made up, got dressed and waited for Grant. He collected me for a spot of Sunday morning birding.   While we'd stopped for me to photograph a Little Bee-eater, his phone rang. It was Touro, acting Production Manager while Thys was on leave. I heard him tell Touro, "That's fine, Touro, as long as you have everything in order, please take the time to go off." When he finished the conversation I asked where Touro was going. (I always ask questions!) He said Touro's church minister's little son had died of malaria and Touro was off to the funeral. Then Grant told me that the little boy I had spoken to in the hospital had also died! Obviously even before the child had had the operation, he'd felt ill but everyone thought it was due to the appendicitis. Meanwhile he also had malaria which ultimately killed him. A third child also died this week in hospital.

So, sadly, here in Tanzania, East Africa, at present,  malaria seems to be a far worse enemy than HIV. 

I have only just heard that it's Easter Weekend coming up. (there is no commercial hype here in the backwoods, so I was totally unaware that it's almost Easter) For those of you traveling at this time, please do take care on the roads and be safe.

I  wish you all a wonderful week ahead.



  1. Oh dear Jo, so much sickness and dying. It really is so sad. The only time I have seen someone with malaria up close was in Ghana and it was really very sad. I helped that man get to the hospital and he recovered but I no longer know what has happened to him as the years have passed. I know malaria is a huge killer if one doesn't get the right medicine quickly. As a child I used to hear the stories of missionaries to Africa getting malaria.

  2. Oh How Sad, Jo... I will pray for you--and the people there. I'm so glad that you were able to get treatment. How does Grant always manage to escape this horrible disease? Glad that he does though...

    Take care. Prayers for your friends/people there.

  3. Jo, what a sad state of affairs. It must be very hard on the children. Hope all is improving.

  4. Oh, Jo, I can't get the idea of that young boy out of my head. Poor little fellow, trying to recover from surgery and no one knowing he had malaria. Very very sad.
    I'm glad you are feeling better, of course, and so glad Grant is available to help you. And I'm sure the pets help just by being themselves.
    Take care.
    Love, K

  5. Jo, how sad that so many people are sick with malaria and dying. Even sadder are the young children..Sending my prayers! I hope you take good care of yourself. It sounds scary..

  6. Oh, so sad indeed, Jo!! I'm holding good thoughts for all of you!! Do take care!!

  7. Very distressing news. Sure hope all get the right medicines and get past this. Prayers your way.

  8. Malaria is such a dreadful disease. I take it that the mosquitos have bred up during the wet season.
    I am so sorry that so many vulnerable people lose their lives to this source.
    Hope you are completely well again.


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