Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Not getting malaria

I am jinxing myself by telling you it is miraculous I have not yet gotten malaria. Much of Monrovia is surrounded by mangrove swamp, it's the middle of the rainy season, and I regularly get bites in the evening that swell up to the size of my thumbnail.

This is my mosquito net, nicely knotted in the daytime. It was made in China, cost $3.50 at Red Light and is moving with us to our new digs in town tonight. I cut off the fringe and use the excess netting to strain the seeds out of my lime juice.

I wanted to buy a long-lasting insecticide treated net, the kind that actually repels mosquitos, for $7.00. However, when they're not being given away by the millions in massive nationwide campaigns, there is only one place to buy them in town and I don't know where it is yet.

In times of conflict where malaria is endemic, the parasite often kills more people than violence for two reasons. First, displaced communities with a particularly nasty strain of malaria move to areas where the strain is milder, transporting a more virulent parasite to their new neighbors. At the same time, people with lower resistance to the parasite move to an area with a nastier strain, so they're more vulnerable to infection. Add a non-functional health system to the mix, and you have Africa's number-one killer on a death mission.

Interestingly, mosquitoes are also attracted to dark clothing, where they can blend in and not be gleefully squashed. Last night in my black yoga pants, I had a swarm of them around me while the others were invisible to the blood suckers. I will need to phase out dark colors from my wardrobe -- a difficult thing for an ex-New Yorker. And I promise to wear bug spray.

5 comments:

  1. but is there doom there? muahahahaha

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  2. I've heard that Neem trees naturally repel mosies, provide nice shade, and are good fodder for the animals. Are they native to Liberia? May be nice to have them around the surf camp. They smell pretty nice. They had them in El Salvador and Egypt.

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  3. In retrospect, is "jinxing myself" the best prediction?

    --malaria sufferer

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  4. oh girl... you did jinx yourself, or nate at least! :(

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  5. see recent, repentant post...

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