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More Unwanted Pets

September 16, 2013

“It’s 30 C,” my friend said to A, observing A shivering in his 3 layers of clothing including a fleece.

“I haven’t been feeling well,” A said “and I’m a bit chilly at the moment.”  And, as we all agreed, when you’re used to a humid and sultry 35 C in Pakistan, a mere 30C in Elstree isn’t quite the same.

A continued to be a bit chilly. And then he got sweaty. That wasn’t so good, especially at night.  I think I’m pretty sympathetic generally but even I have limits at 3am when I’m woken up to provide comment on just how sweaty he is.  He was very sweaty.  The conversation ended there.

My mother said it was malaria (we were staying with them at the time), so A was despatched to the doctor.  Apparently he had a virus which would, eventually, pass.   This did not satisfy my mother.  She was adamant it was malaria.

And so we returned to Pakistan and, as is often the way, the night before he was about to leave for a once-in-a-lifetime-trip across the US with his brother, A’s chills and horrible sweatiness returned, this time combined with chronic back pain.

Obviously he still went on holiday and the grottiness passed.  On his return, however, he was delighted* to find that I’d made him a doctor’s appointment for, oh, absolutely immediately.  I cajoled him into going with a ‘humour me’ and a ‘do you know how disgusting it is to sleep with a horribly sweaty person?’ and other kind and loving comments and so he went.

It transpired that he had malaria.  Reports that my mother jumped up and punched the air whooping and saying “I was right, I was right” may (or may not) have been exaggerated.  The upshot was that there was a grotty little parasitic protozoan called a plasmodium which was living in A’s bloodstream.  More to the point, he was also a carrier.


It’s all her fault!

Up to that point, Islamabad was a malaria-free zone.  Suddenly we were aware that any female mosquitos which bit A and then bit someone else would be transmitting malaria.  I’m not good at sexing mosquitos (not a phrase I ever thought I would write) but I am good at squashing them. I’m also good at incarcerating my children and spraying them from head to toe with mosquito repellent.   Between us, A and I killed every mosquito in the vicinity this weekend.

A has also been on medication.  Normally, to prevent malaria, you are supposed to take a single pill of Malarone a day.  To kill existing malaria, however, you take 4 pills for 3 consecutive days.  Call me ‘unnecessarily nervy’ but it doesn’t fill me with joy when the doctor hands the pills over saying ‘Don’t read the side effects’.

We read the side effects.  Yikes.

More than one in ten people get vomiting, diarrhoea, headaches and stomach pain.

More than one in a hundred people get depression, itchy rashes, strange dreams and anaphylactic reactions.

You can also get psychosis, hallucinations, skin exfoliation (!), panic attacks, mouth ulcers and, at the end of the list and, in my opinion undoubtedly as a reaction to the rest of the Malarone joy, ‘crying’.

A has complete the course.  Despite being prepared to see my generally stable husband start acting like a complete loon, he doesn’t appear to have suffered any consequences.  Maybe it’s just that the side effects mirror the disease and just lie dormant, quietly biding their time until something triggers them off.  If it’s the same trigger as the malaria, I look forward to seeing what happens the next time that A goes to stay with my mother….

*Delighted: A state of emotion in which, whilst rolling eyes repeatedly and sighing rather a lot, you realise that you’ve met a brick wall of determination and therefore reluctantly agree

[Photo credit: aussiegall]


From → Pakistan

  1. Sara permalink

    Love, love, love this and we will have to look into a course on sexing mosquitos!


  2. Have to disagree with Sara – really don’t love this at all. Mostly because I really (in a totally platonic way obviously) do love A (and all the rest of you!) and don’t like malaria/mosquitos/drugs/side effects or anything else.

    Tell him to get well soon xxx And keep killing those bugs.


    • To come to Sara’s defence, she has seen A being generally very well indeed recently. In fact if they hadn’t checked his blood to find the little beasties you’d be hard pushed to know there was anything wrong at all. Happily we’ve (I’m definitely in this too) now finished the meds with no obvious side effects… far. xxx


      • In which case she’s forgiven. I’ll even excuse her the mosquito sexing course…

        And tell him he can have a plaster next time he complains. I’ll even send him some Peppa Pig ones.


  3. Can’t you just use immodium? If it’s got to knock out a plasmodium? Seems right to me.

    Hope all is well again.


    • Yep, if only they made meds that rhymed with the disease they counteracted, even I might have been tempted to study pharmacy.


  4. I’m surprised he was able to function the way he did for so long. From what I’ve heard malaria can be quite debilitating – fatal even. I’m glad he’s OK.

    Malaria pills were necessary for our trip through Africa. We took the strong ones that we only had to take once a week. I felt nauseas and grosse for two days every time I took a pill and my partner (who never remembers his dreams) had these weird dreams about spiders crawling all over him. Blegh – I am not sure which I’d prefer.


  5. By the way, I’m curious. So generally Islamabad is malaria free. But A is a carrier which is why he got it? And then he gave it to the mozzie? I didn’t quite get that part. Or did the mozzie give him the parasite and he gave the mozzie malaria as a trade? I’m only being a little facetious… I’m not even sure how dumb this questions is 🙂


    • We reckon A picked it up in Nepal or Sri Lanka or Bangladesh or one of those other places the little plasmodiums like to hang out. He then came back to Islamabad but, as it’s a malaria-free zone the only chance anyone in the vicinity had of catching malaria was if a mozzie bit A whilst the plasmodiums were still alive and then bit someone else. However, the plasmodiums are, apparently, all dead now, so A is no longer ‘a carrier’. Which is nice.
      The whole incident definitely demonstrates the benefit of going for a diagnosis in the country where the disease is most prevalent. In the UK it was dismissed as a virus. Over here, they did all the right tests straight away and got it nipped in the bud before it got really nasty.


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