On having malaria

I had my first dose of malaria last month after returning from Mali (Niger River mosquitoes mean business…) Other than telling friends I wasn’t up for a walk because I was weak, I didn’t really mention it here because it seems to be a staple article in any expat-in-Africa blog which is kinda lame as the stories are always the exact same. Yeah, it sucks, but you get over it and if you’re smart about it, you’re fine after a short spell.

What really blew my mind about that whole thing was the litany of chatter I would get about medications, especially in the preventative department. Some people I’ve heard of take doxycycline as a preventative, ongoing cure. That’s insane as that’s an antibiotic and seeing as how you are “biotic” you are actually attacking your system with it and thus your system responds by building up an immunity to it. As a cure, yes, it works well, but it won’t keep working well if idiots keep taking it all the time. I think any doctor that prescribes antibiotics for anything other than fighting an immediate infection should have his license revoked.

But, there are less potent treatments such as Malarone. The one problem with it can be the psychological effects. I can’t remember the amount of times people asked me if I was having nightmares when I initially took the medication in the first month of people in Côte d’Ivoire. No, I didn’t. What happened to me was that a month and a half after taking it, I stopped because it was given me soul-crushing depression, but this appears to be common with any malaria treatment I take. Although I’m sure the power cuts and general collapse of the Ivoirian country wasn’t doing much to lift my spirits.

I suppose what bugs me the most are all the people who are just terrified to catch malaria. Again, it’s a super duper incredibly sucky thing to have and for me, it lasted about five days mainly because I was at the beach, without medication, and I didn’t realize I had it first as initially it just seemed like dehydration, although drinking lots of water does help lessen the symptoms a good deal. I suppose the fear of the disease is due to lack of personal control, despite the fact that it’s very easily curable. It is a fact that your chances of dying from driving in a car are far, far greater than dying from contracting malaria as a North American or European. Yet, people are far more afraid of malaria than driving, probably due to the illusion of personal control the wheel of the car presents.

I have to admit that some of the people who were terrified to contract the disease upon arrival here in Côte d’Ivoire and have since had it several times do make me smirk a bit though and yes, they finally understand that you get over it quite fast despite the news hysteria around it. Anyways, on to eating fatty foods and working to regain strength slowly.

One Reply to “On having malaria”

  1. Yep, I think the leading causes of death among North Americans and Europeans in Africa are 1) Road accidents 2) Crime and 3) Disease. Looking at http://travel.state.gov/law/family_issues/death/death_600.html it seems that drowning, drugs and suicide are relatively common too, at least among American citizens.

    Anyhow, one malaria-related question: Among you guys living long term in Cote d’Ivoire or Africa, do you use any preventive pills against malaria?

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