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TIPS ON MALARIA

  • HOW CAN MOSQUITOES BE CONTROLLED?

    Mosquitoes around the home can be reduced significantly by minimizing the amount of standing water available for mosquito breeding. Residents are urged to reduce standing water around the home in a variety of ways.

  • HOW CAN I PROTECT MYSELF FROM MOSQUITO-BORN DISEASES?

    The best way is to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes.This can be accomplished using personal protecting  while outdoors when mosquitoes are present. Treated bed nets should be used sleeping. Mosquito repellent should be used when outdoor.

  • WHO ARE AT RISK?


    Nearly half of the world’s population is at risk of getting malaria. Pregnant women are particularly at risk of malaria. Children under 5 years are at high risk of malaria.
     

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Intruders

By Yemi Sanusi

This is a piece of medical fiction that talks about the activities of malaria agents within a human being and how the body reacts to them. A young girl, Eva, is exposed to the bites of female Anopheles mosquitoes and gets infected with plasmodia, malaria agents, which enter her blood in a bid to feed and take her life over.

However,inside Eva, different commanders in charge of different organs/systems are on the look-out, with Bain being in charge of the brain and Hart in control of activities concerning the heart and circulation.  There are other commanders in charge of the digestive and respiratory systems.

It turns out into a fierce battle.Now read on…..

Some weeks after Eva’s eleventh birthday, several female mosquitoes made their way into her room through a breach in the window mesh.

Eva had washed her mosquito net that day and had left it outside to dry, so she didn’t sleep under a net that night.

And the Anopheles mosquitoes chose that night to strike!

In the salivary gland of the female Anopheles mosquito, plasmodia – the malaria agents – waited, like human soldiers in a helicopter going on a mission of war.

They were waiting for the exact moment to spring out and start their invasion.
 

They sensed the moment was getting close. If they had been humans, the scene would have been similar to soldiers travelling to enemy territory at night. They knew that any mistake would cost them their lives; any crushing of the mosquito would end their mission, and ultimately, their lives.

* When Eva woke up the next day, she noticed that she had some mosquito bites on her body but she was not particularly perturbed. After all, a lot of her friends often had mosquito bites and nothing happened to them.

However, so as not to be bitten again, she took the mosquito net off the clothesline and rigged it up again in her room. Pleased with the way she neatly arranged the net, she gave herself a mental pat on the back and hurried off to help her mother with the chores.

*Unknown to Eva, her infection began that night when the bite of an infected female Anopheles mosquito released malaria agents through its salivary glands into her body.

As the mosquito fed on Eva’s blood, the malaria agents entered her bloodstream and quickly invaded her liver cells.

*Find us an appropriate site,” General X, head of the malaria agents, told his scouts. He glanced down as if he was looking at a wristwatch. “Starting now!”

In about thirty minutes, the scouts had gone round the body, returned and given General X a feedback. Then the malaria agents disappeared from the bloodstream and successfully hid in the liver.

General X made some plasmodia stand guard as they mapped out their strategy.

Then it was time to encroach on liver cells. This they did gleefully, growing and multiplying.

By day 14, they were ready to venture back into the bloodstream where they would attach to red blood cells, inject themselves into them and take up about two-thirds of each cell, completely disguising themselves in them.

At this point, each of them would be expected to produce more malaria agents, about twelve to sixteen of them each. Every malaria agent looked forward to this point because it was the peak of their reproductive age (in one day, about 40,000 more malaria agents could be produced).

So they slowly and strategically prepared their exodus from the liver, with each malaria agent mastering, from the scouts’ rough description of the body, the different routes they were expected to capture.

* It took the malaria agents several hours to seize a substantial number of red blood cells. With each capture and then subsequent rupture of the cells, the fever and chills characteristic of malaria began.

* That day, Eva came home from school feeling tired and cold. Her temperature had risen and she felt very drowsy.

Her mother gave her some medication and encouraged her to sleep. Some hours later, Eva walked into the kitchen where her mother was preparing supper. She said she had a headache and was feeling dizzy. Her mother gave her some tablets. A few minutes later, she collapsed on the floor.

* The hypothalamus, a unit in the brain, could not understand what was going on but it dispatched its activities mechanically, sending up high temperatures when the signals were appropriate.

Hart, a short stocky red cell in command of Eva’s heart and circulation, was distraught. This was a sudden invasion which she had been unprepared for. Her red blood cells were dying and also being used as agents, and despite her requests to bone marrow, she knew he couldn’t cope. If they weren’t careful, her soldiers would become helpless and the body would grow pale.

Some malaria agents had captured some parts of the small intestine, making food absorption difficult.

In just a little while, General X calculated, they would be ready to make a final run upwards, and then the brain would be theirs, deliciously theirs.

Meanwhile Bain, a white young cell in charge of Eva’s brain, laden with morning duties, was too busy to pay close attention to a report saying there were fresh plasmodia in the blood. He knew they had been around for a few minutes, but they had disappeared and not caused any trouble.

There didn’t seem to be any problem. After all, the body was surrounded on a daily basis by potential enemies, and some of them proved quite friendly and even lived for a long time on the skin and digestive tracts. He considered he would only have to worry if the white blood cells and other members of the immune system became powerless. Ah, then the body would really be in trouble.

Bain flipped through the report again. Some of the cells had been spotted in the liver but had not caused any major harm. It seemed the liver even welcomed them, though they were under close surveillance.

Bain smiled at that. Liver was so friendly and trusting and virtually welcomed every- and anything. Probably because she was one of the very few organs in the body with the power to grow back if damaged – or like the other heads of departments would joke, Liver’s spare parts were always readily available. They all knew that the brain and spine couldn’t try that sort of thing, Bain mused.

Sighing, he checked to see what had sparked off an early morning sneeze in the lungs - Jasmine’s department. He had to find a proper solution to the matter; if for nothing, at least for the body’s well-being.

“At age seven,” Bain said, “we went through this kind of crisis, Hart, and it was like a piece of cake. Why not this time? We’re eleven years old. We should be smarter and stronger.”

Hart gestured helplessly. “I really can’t say what’s wrong. Looks like the plasmodia have mutated, become more confident. They seem like the strains we captured and kept in the body’s experience laboratory...”

Hart hadn’t at all finished what she was saying. Slowly she added, “But there’s something very different about these new ones...”

Bain wasn’t in a meditative mood. “I need answers, Hart, and I need them fast. If you have to drag the whole of the experience laboratory with you, I don’t care. Just make sure those bloody parasites don’t get close to anywhere they can cause permanent damage.” He paused. “Is that understood?”

Hart nodded. “Yes,” she said quietly.

For once, the usually arrogant Hart had gone coy.

* On the outside, Eva’s temperature was unstable. Other body signs were being observed, and there was nothing her mother could do but to pray and hope she would get better.

Hart had reassured Bain that everything would be okay, that they would be on the lookout for suspicious characters, but Bain wasn’t so sure.

With the malaria agents acting like red blood cells and then multiplying in the cells before exploding, it was like many suicide bombers just waiting to blow up.

Bain knew Hart would increase security but he didn’t feel comfortable. It was just a matter of time before it became difficult to trust anyone and differentiate friend from foe. Even your closest ally, even Hart, could be infiltrated and become a potential traitor.

Bain grew quite worried. Lurking somewhere inside him was that dangerous slice of fear, waiting, just waiting.

In the next episode: With the havoc being wreaked on the human cells by General X’s soldiers, it seems that Eva’s body is losing the battle. Will the malaria agents beat the body cells or will Hart’s troops gain the upper hand? Will Bain’s fears be confirmed? Will he even survive this attack? These questions will be answered in the next edition when Bain comes face to face with General X.

Yemi Sanusi (AMMREN Nigeria) is a medical doctor pursuing a career in writing. “Intruders” is an excerpt from her first book titled Heads and Tales.

Editions: 
Ninth Edition