This beautiful species of Mosquito is responsible for the topic of my post today; and the reason I haven't been posting...
Her name is Anopheles albimanus and she carries among other few diseases mostly Malaria. This beautiful sounding word that unlike other scary diseases is easy to pronounce and rolls off one's tongue almost Melodiously. Unless you've seen someone suffering from it.
It starts off mellow like the flu with body aches and a fever. Ah just a flu, one would say preparing themselves to feel like crud for a week or so. But what becomes odd is the lack of runny nose, coughing, sneezing one associates with flu or cold. At the same time one notes these missing symptoms one's fever rises dramatically and as it rises a sudden onset of shaking chills sets in for an hour. After a person finally gets rid of the shaking they sweat profusely. If they've been smart enough to get some Paracetamol (Tylenol, panadol) into their system their fever will lessen. Yet suddenly 18-24 hours later the same thing will happen day after painful day.
Now this Malaria normally happens if you have recently traveled to a Malaria Infested Zone (which can be anywhere in the world beside cold places) Here is a Map:
What happens is this amazing Mosquito above bites someone infected with Malaria. She reproduces with this infected blood. Her hundreds of little babies have Malaria in their spit basically. As they puncture another person to drink they spread Malaria to that person. A week later bam flu symptoms and fever with chills.
The protozoa parasite goes through the blood stream to the Liver where she has fun attaching herself to red blood cells. As they are expelled from the liver the reproductive cycle is happening and as the babies mature they explode out from the blood cell (en mass) AND ATTACK EVERY NEARBY RED BLOOD CELL! This is what causes the cycles of fever and shaking when suddenly your immune system has to attack a swarm of exploding baby protozoa Malaria.
In the beginning of November my brother in law was planning to go for a visit back to Beirut, Lebanon to see his family. He stopped by our house to have a long chat about life with his brother (my husband). They sat out in our garden for hours that night. Husband kept telling me to join them but I was tired and was busy trying to get the kids in bed. So they sat and had a merry chat. A few days later we took him to the Airport and he went to Lebanon. A week later my husband started feeling flu-ish. He ignored it and kept working. But slowly he wasn't getting enough sleep and feeling weaker and weaker. Finally we go to Noor Hospital. The doc prescribes him antibiotics and Panadol (Tylenol) after doing a simple blood scan. I spend lots of time and energy ensuring Husband rests and takes his meds on time. I cook a fabulous Chicken Soup just as a good wife should. But it's not enough. The shaking got worse, the fever go worse, the pain became unbearable. We talk to family in Beirut and his brother is suffering the same weird symptoms and odd fevers. To Oasis Hospital! Husband orders. I get the kids ready preparing myself for another long wait and results of more expensive meds to buy. We wait ages like all UAE Clinics to see the doc then finally he goes in while I go to the machine for more snacks to appease the children. I take a walk around to help the kids expend energy then go back to the Clinic. I look around doorways searching for my husband, finally he's in the last room, on an I.V. (!!!) I of course was worried and fussed over him. He was in extreme pain while they drew blood and waited HOURS for the results. The doc had ordered like 15 different tests. At 12AM finally they came back.
"Where have you been traveling to?" Dr. asked me.
"No where. We've been here for 2 years now." I replied confused.
"Where's your husband from?" Dr. nodding and writing as we walk to Husb's room.
"Hmmm. Well then how did he get Malaria?" Dr. asks and enters the room leaving me literally rooted to the floor in the hallway. How indeed!
I enter as Dr. is telling the news to Husband. We are all perplexed by this. Doc asks Husb the same questions but still gets no clues. At first I think it's the workers at my husband's job who could have infected him because they come from everywhere, Pakistan, Afghanistan, India etc...
"Your brother is feeling the same as you though. He must have it too?" I tell the doc and husband. Doctor looks even more confused.
"Has he traveled?" "No." "Where do you work?" "In South Al-Ain." "They work near each other but not close enough for a Mosquito to bite them both." "Where do you live?" "We live near Al-Ain Mall while he lives on the other side of the city." I explain to the doc questions. Finally I go to his office to answer more questions while he writes a report for the Government about a case of Malaria. They take my number so I expect to hear from someone about this. They give my husband Quinine Pills and a few others and tell us come back in 7 days. Well it's been 4 days so far but these 4 days have felt sooo long. No one has contacted us from the govt. I've researched my heart out about everything having to do with mosquitos and Malaria. It's some scary scary stuff believe me. It's says every 30 seconds a child dies from this disease. Sweating and shaking itself to death. Ya Allah. Of course when we got home from the doc we turn on out phone to find a message from my other bro in law in Beirut, saying our Bro has Malaria and we should go the Doctor for diagnosis. Which was funny because that's the same message I was about to send him. A few days later Bro in law said to us that he's not coming back to UAE. The family wants us to say the same. So now we are in a quandary as to what we should do. Was this an isolated incidence where two brothers got bit at the same time in our garden? Or is it the beginning of a mass outbreak here in Al-Ain? After all it says this female Mosquito can lay up to 3000 eggs in her short lifetime. That's 3000 mosquitoes carrying Malaria searching for victims....
Now many of you are sleeping in your warm beds at night lazily swatting a random buzzing in your ear hoping you hit it. Not me, not anymore. My house is armed to the teeth.
We went out immediately and bought Insecticide Spray for Mosquitoes and fumigated our house while we stayed safely in the car. After ventilating the house we also got small burners called Vape and my wonderful friend gave us a Buzzing Electric Light to Fry the bugs if they try to get near us. We sealed every entrance to our house tightly and sprayed it for good measure.
Now we are sitting cooped up in our house wondering if it is safe to go out. My garden where the alleged crime happened is a off limits place for now. Though my neighbors (whom I warned) continue to sit out and have BBQs and let their daughter frolic, haven't seemed to have any problems. Tomorrow we are going back to the doctors to question more about if this is isolated or not. I don't think I can live like this always on edge always feeling cooped up in a semi-quarantine state to prevent myself and my precious children from catching Malaria. I want to run away fast to Canada or some freezing northern European country where the Mosquitoes are not going to. I've lived my life oblivious to major infectious diseases thanks to Allah for letting me be born in a cleaner country than others, but now the veils have been lifted and my eyes are wide open to the risk. If anyone out there knows anything about malaria and UAE let me know. So far I found that UAE is supposed to be a Malaria-Free Zone (HAHAHA yeah right) but if so how did this happen then?!?! And if anyone knows how I can move swiftly to Canada or Northern Europe I'd be grateful the advice. I want you all out there to take the steps to protect your families because these diseases are everywhere and with the rate of people shifting around the world these days no where is 100% safe. Malaria can be Deadly Serious!