Cause of Malaria: Parasite or Bad Air?


‘But it is Just Malaria… So, Malaria can kill’

Her brain knew virtually nothing about what was going on at that moment. She neither foams in the mouth; nor was any part of her body jerking.

Meanwhile, she looked clean. Her body neither smelled nor did she have any saliva running over. Interestingly too, she did not pass either urine or faeces on her body.

She was a young adult, and if my guess was correct, she would be in her early twenties.

What is rather shocking is her temperature level. She was rather too hot and was breathing a bit faster than a normal human should. She however made no noise with her breathing.

As a medical doctor, I quickly examined her chest and discovered she had some fluid in her lungs.

‘Ah, this was the reason’, I thought to myself.

Her pulse was racing as I placed my fingers on her right hand, but her blood pressure was normal.

‘She was too young to suffer a stroke’, I also thought.

I asked those who brought her in a number of questions.

They were her roommates. They told me of her name, course and level and the hostel she resided. According to their narration, she had been feeling sick for about two weeks as she overslept and still always woke up tired. She also didn’t attend lectures as regularly anymore. They had taunted her with the idea that she was pregnant; because they thought she was.

As a team of doctors, we instituted our treatment. I was only a part of them.

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The line was set and she was given the first aid while we ran quite a number of tests on her, starting with a pregnancy test. Her roommates couldn’t pay for a number of them, so they phoned her parents.

The next day, she had gained consciousness a little with her eyes opened. We met her mother seated by her bed when we came for our morning rounds.

‘Have you collected the test results?’, I asked.

She nodded affirmatively and showed me about five different papers which I gave to my superior.

‘So, cerebral malaria it was’, he said.

‘Okay, congratulations ma. Please take good care of your daughter and make sure you complete the treatment we have started’, he counselled.

He left me to handle the rest of the counselling.

‘Doctor, e joo kini doctor yen so pe o she omo mi?’ she inquired to know what my superior had just told me when I sat with her.

‘Well’, I started.

‘She isn’t pregnant as earlier thought by her roommates but she had severe malaria, which is called cerebral malaria. That is a situation when malaria parasites begin to affect the brain.’

She was scared.

And of course, she has every reason to be scared because were it not for our [God planned] timely intervention, she would have ended up just as another figure, plus one; added to the number of deaths daily recorded from severe malaria.

‘But it is just malaria’, she said?

Well, as you can see, malaria has roundly dealt with her just as the way she had looked down upon it and refused to seek help on time.

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And when she felt strong enough to speak, guess what she said to me?

‘Mummy told me I had malaria, was it true?. I nodded.

‘So… malaria can kill’, she wondered.

I smiled, almost busting into laughter.

Well, don’t judge the book by its cover, don’t belittle malaria because it is carried by mosquitoes.

It is important to note that malaria is a Latin word comprising of two words…… mal and aria. Before the parasite that caused malaria was discovered, people thought it was caused by smelling of bad air.

To be continued…
Maryam A. Raji is a medical doctor who is currently serving her country in Lagos

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  1. Adeisit

    Its important that people get the statistics of people who die from the diseases that we see as common and easy to treat, you will be surprised at the figure.

    I pray that we do not become the plus 1 of that figure.

    Remember, if you are not feeling well and you have used any drug but no improvement after two days, please consult you doctor.

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