Malaria: P. falciparum and me.

Thanks, Wiki-p:  Plasmodium  falciparum – located worldwide in tropical and suburban areas, but predominately in Africa. An estimated 1 million people are killed by this strain every year. The strain can multiply rapidly and can adhere to blood vessel walls in the brain, causing rapid onset of severe malaria including cerebral malaria. Malaria is caused by the bites from the female Anopheles mosquito, which then infects the body with the parasite Plasmodium. This is the only mosquito that can cause malaria.

life_cycle_of_the_malaria_parasiteSheila assures me that I had had a bout of P. vivax, previously, but I hardly remember it – I thought it was the ‘flu.

But I’ll never forget the two lots of cerebral malaria that laid me low.

When we lived in Maun, it seems that vivax malaria was prevalent, and falciparum malaria was rare. The latter form of malaria was more associated with visits to the Zambezi Valley areas of Botswana, Zimbabwe and Zambia.

plasmodium-falciparum

P. falciparum

The most horrific tale I ever heard of falciparum concerned a Dutch hairdresser, married to a South African, who settled in Maun. Her father flew out from Holland for a visit and, of course, a safari. The family did the round trip – Victoria Falls, Kasane, Chobe Game reserve, Moremi Game Reserve and back to Maun. A wonderful time was had by all, and Dad flew back to Holland.

Where he died a couple of weeks later.

His abrupt passing was a tremendous shock to the family. In remembrance, a year later, the hairdresser’s brother joined them from Holland to replicate the trip. In memorium.

Back in Holland, her brother, too, passed away.

Presumably, if the doctors had had any idea of what they were dealing with, they could have been treated and saved. Both of them. But apparently they had no clue…

Obviously, in Maun, diagnosis was more immediate, and treatment available.

Besides the ‘flu-like symptoms, and anaemia, it was the headache that was devastating and unforgettable. It felt like a continuous axe blow to the lower back of my skull. I don’t mean repetitious; simply there all the time until the pain tabs kicked in. I moaned and groaned and whimpered, and if there had been an OFF button, I’d have pushed it.

Sheila helped me through one bout at home with medicine from the Nigerian, Dr Patrick. I spent the other in Dr Patrick’s newly established Maun Clinic. I would not wish it on my worst enemy. The only good to come out of it was that I gave up smoking, a story I have already related.

“If you plan to continue living in Maun, this thing is going to kill you,” Sheila warned me. That scared the hell out of my mind set. I began to think seriously, although with great reluctance, about moving on…

About peterjearle

Writer of thriller novels. 4 Published: 'Purgatory Road', 'The Barros Pawns', and the Detective Dice Modise Series:'Hunter's Venom' and 'Medicinal Purposed Only', all from Southern Africa.
This entry was posted in Botswana, Exploring Africa, Shaping a writer and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Malaria: P. falciparum and me.

  1. Bradley says:

    Mmmm…..i remember being so scared of getting malaria when I was there that I religiously took two types of malaria tablets.
    I remeber when Tommy got Malaria and watched him sweat off half his body weight in a week. It was very scary.
    I am glad that it wasn’t the end of of one Peter J Earle.

  2. de Wets Wild says:

    I think you may be one of only a handful of people to have survived two bouts of cerebral malaria!

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