Accra Ghana Temple

Accra Ghana Temple
Accra Ghana Temple

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Dodging Malaria

In America, we have mosquitoes that are big and loud.  You can hear them coming.  You can feel them land and slap them while still on your skin.  Not so in Africa.  The Anopheles mosquito is very tiny, quick, and silent - the perfect predator.  You will only find out later, maybe the next day, that you've been that mosquito's lunch.  

The female Anopheles mosquito is the "bad boy" that transmits the parasites that cause malaria. They start biting in the late evening, with the peak of biting activity at midnight and early hours of morning.  The specific species of Anopheles that causes all this trouble in in Africa is called A. gambiae. The Anopheles female mosquito lays 30-150 eggs every 2-3 days and the average life span of these critters is 2-3 weeks.  Sadly, every 30 seconds a baby dies of Malaria in Africa. 

Studies claim that mosquitoes choose their victims by odors and human behaviour.  Also it is believed that males are more frequently bitten.  Can that really be true?  Gregg said "no way is that true," because Shannon always has more mosquito bites than I do. 

We are currently on a preventative regimen of Doxycycline.  This is to create a hurdle for Malaria; maybe even disable it.  We also carry, at all times, a box of Artrin which is to be taken immediately if malaria symptoms appear. Artrin is very effective in eliminating the parasites. It is possible for  Malaria to manifest up to a month after being bit.  The telling symptoms are chills and fever, headache, tiredness, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.  I am told that you get really sick really fast.  Not fun at all.     

All the missionaries in the West Africa Area are given a mosquito net and 2 new commandments; use the net every night and to take Doxycycline daily.  If they follow these guidelines, they can avoid malaria - virtually guaranteed.  They are also encouraged to give the mosquito net to a mother for her baby when they return home. 

It gets dark here by 6 p.m.  We really try not to be out at night to avoid the mosquitoes, so if we do go out at night we use DEET mosquito repellent.  We have a pest control plan for our home and we do our best to keep our house sealed up. We also protect ourselves in the evenings and early mornings by wearing clothes that cover the body as much as possible.

If it can be done, we plan to leave Africa having never experienced Malaria.  Wish us luck.