Thursday, September 20, 2007

Malaria


Since I have come to Kenya the house that I have been living in has been continuously occupied with critters. Everyday there are innumerable spiders, beetles, flies, mosquitoes, and ants along with the occasional cockroach living with me. For the most part none of them really bother me except the mosquitoes which can carry the parasite that causes malaria.


In order to prevent myself from getting sick I need to take Artenam, an anti-malaria medication, twice a week as well as make the most use out of my mosquito net and insect repellent.

Furthermore, I spend at least a couple of minutes each night on the hunt for mosquitoes before I go to bed. In the house, I go from room to room and since I cannot tell the difference between the malaria infected mosquitoes and the ones that are not, I kill them all. My hearing is acutely tuned to the sound of a mosquito's wings in flight and if they are around while I'm in bed it is extremely irritating to hear them buzzing in my ears. It’s strange how personal a mosquito bite or the thought of getting malaria is to me.

In my work with disabled children it is unbelievable how many cases are caused by this illness. It is part of the work of the St. Julie Programme to educate the people of the surrounding community in the prevention and treatment of malaria.

  • Malaria is caused by a parasite that is transmitted by the Anopheles mosquito.
  • More than one million people die of malaria every year, mostly infants, young children and pregnant women.
  • 90% of the 300-500 million cases each year are reported in Africa.
  • Malaria remains the first cause of death for children under five in Africa.
  • A child dies of malaria every 30 seconds.
  • Symptoms of malaria include fever, shivering, pain in the joints, headaches, repeated vomiting, convulsions and coma.
  • If left untreated, the disease can spread to the brain causing cerebral palsy, other disabilities, and even death.
  • Malaria is both preventable and curable.
  • Although there are drugs that are commercially available for prevention and treatment of malaria none of them are effective against all strains of the parasite.
At least one upper corner of every room in my house is inhabited by a large long-legged spider. When I clean on Saturday afternoons I always think that I should sweep them all out, but another part of me says that they aren’t hurting me and that they may help to reduce the insect population, by feasting on mosquitoes. So we have made peace with each other and I allow them to stay, rent free.

4 comments:

Tim said...

Tim,

I take the same attitude about spiders as well. So many people are just so afraid of them, but yet they fail to remember that spiders help reduce the overall insect population of your house. So, keep the spiders alive! Viva Spiders!

Anonymous said...

Tim - I don't know how you do it! Just looking at the photos and reading what you go through regarding bugs gives me the heebie jeebies :)
Keep up the good work in Kenya!
Heather (Hernandez!)

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