Malaria Or Food Poisoning is part of the South America & Africa Points Heist Trip Report.
I’m too familiar with food poisoning. Sharm El Sheikh was the worst. Siem Reap was second. Prague was third. Atlanta when Michigan went to the Final Four was fourth. There are probably others that I have chosen to forget.
I got a strange feeling when we arrived at the entrance to Mara. I thought it was from the rough drive. After dinner, the bleh feeling turned into chills. That turned into many visits to the toilet but not to throw up. Chills gave way to an intense fever and back to chills. At 5AM, I thought I was healed and fell asleep. At 7AM, I was back to feeling terrible.
With an hour to go before my next game drive, I made the tough decision not to go. There was no way I could be out in the bumpy van without a toilet close by. When the doctor came to see me in my room, I was on fire. He checked my temperature which was 102 degrees and took down my symptoms. With no blood taken, he concluded that I had clinical malaria. The secondary diagnosis was food poisoning. He left and returned with two shots: one was for the malaria and one was for the fever. He said that within fifteen minutes of the injections, I would be as good as new.
Miraculously, he was right. The fever went away and besides being dehydrated and a bit weak, I was much better. In addition to the shots, I received two kinds of pills to be taken over the next five days.
Unlike in Sharm, where I had to wait for the food poisoning to run its course, this illness only lasted hours. That was the good news. The bad news was that I missed an epic day of safari as captured by Ms. TPOL’s pic below. I’m not posting all of them because it’s too annoying to revisit what I missed!
Since the incident, I’ve spoken to my dad, a physician, my friend, a pediatrician, my safari driver, and locals. Each person has his or her opinion on whether it was malaria or food poisoning. The case for malaria is how quickly I felt better. The case against it is that the doctor said I had contracted it the night before. Per the CDC, symptoms don’t show up for at least seven days. It is possible that I was bit by a mosquito in previous stops, but it is weird that the doctor would say this.
The only way to be sure is to test and continue to test my blood when I get home to confirm. I’m passing on that.
Although I got the vaccination for Typhoid and Yellow Fever before I came, I didn’t opt to take anti-malaria pills because of the side effects. Even if it was just food poisoning, next time I’m taking the precaution by swallowing pills.
Malaria or food poisoning? Either way, it was awful.
TPOL’s TIP: If you’re going to get malaria, get it in Kenya. The house-call and injections were $25.