Like most people, I’m not a big fan of needles or shots. I had to get quite a few inoculations before arriving in Sierra Leone, and I’m still trying to erase that memory from my mind. As most people know, Malaria is a mosquito-borne infectious disease of which there is no vaccine to protect against. One can take a preventative anti-malarial drug but it will not necessarily protect against all strains, nor is it meant for long-term usage. I stopped my daily dosage in December when dry season began, and will likely start again in the rainy season. Without that extra layer of protection, I do my best to screen my skin with long-sleeved shirts, pants, socks and shoes even when the temperature is pushing 95˚F/35˚C. Acting carefully, regarding mosquito bites, certainly isn’t a guarantee, but seriously reduces the risks.
Unfortunately, everyone isn’t as heedful, and a few people in camp have contracted malaria in the last few months. Today, I pulled on a pair of rubber gloves and administered a malaria detection test to one of the drillers who had fallen ill.
These kits are useful, especially since malaria can typically be treated with a course of oral tablets taken over a number of days.
I tried my best nurse impression, but I chickened out a bit with the needle and had Alastair prick the man’s finger to draw blood. Needles…ouch (I guess I’d never make a good nurse).
Regrettably, the man’s test came out positive for malaria and because he was feeling seriously ill he was driven to a clinic in Koidu for proper treatment. We’re all hoping he’ll make a quick recovery and use this event as a reminder to take precautions.