Once bitten twice shy
When Howard first approached GREEN Communications to look after incognito’s public relations little did he know how much we had in common. We both have a common interest in competitive sport – Howard an avid table tennis player and I’m nuts about rowing – and, more importantly, we have both been bitten by mosquitoes and we have both caught malaria. I still suffer from an attack once a year – which usually means a week in bed with high temperatures, sweating and shivering and closing myself off to the world. As Howard has pointed out before on this blog you do not want to get bitten by a mosquito, even if you are on anti-malarias. My encounter with the mosquito occurred in Brazil nearly 10 years ago. I was there on a business trip as a journalist accompanying a trade mission with UK Trade & Industry. I travelled around the country but spent most of my time in Sao Paulo (where, incidentally I was shot at by gangsters when I visited one of the Favellas for a feature I was working on) and Curitiba. Throughout my stay I was using DEET-based insect repellents – natural repellents didn’t exist back then. I had taken all my jabs and was on anti-malarials. Normally, I am one of those people who virtually never get bitten. Of the two of us my wife is the one who attracts the attention of insects and suffers from all sorts of bites. So I thought I would be safe. Sadly, it was not the case. I can still remember when it happened – all the time I was staying in Brazil I only heard the annoying buzz of a mosquito once – and that one mosquito must have bitten me. It was while staying in my hotel room in Sao Paulo – which didn’t issue mosquito nets because, back then the city wasn’t deemed to have a mozzie problem. Just so you know, the females of the Anopheles genus of mosquito prefer to feed at night. They usually start searching for a meal at dusk, and will continue throughout the night until after taking a meal. I thought nothing of me having shared a hotel room with a tiny insect until about two weeks later, when I had returned back to the UK. I woke up one morning with a headache such I had never had before – shortly after I started to show symptoms of fever. Normally, I don’t do ill and I certainly don’t subscribe to the idea of Man Flu. But I felt BAD, so much so that I went to my GP. Many GPs get a lot of flack when diagnosing malaria but I couldn’t fault Dr Shakespeare my GP who – through a simple process of elimination after questioning me about my symptoms and my recent travels – concluded I had malaria. This was later confirmed by Leeds General Infirmary where I was put on a course of medication. However, for the next week I spent most of it in bed at home with a fever. The fever is a devilish thing because while your temperature is dangerously high you actually feel stone cold so are constantly shivering – certainly that’s how it felt in my case. These are the classic symptoms of malaria and it comes back every year as a cyclical occurrence of sudden coldness followed by rigor and then fever and sweating lasting four to six hours, occurring every two to four days depending which form of malaria you have been infected with. Malaria recurs after treatment for several reasons but recrudescence occurs when parasites are not cleared by treatment. For me each year the fever attacks have become less debilitating as my body has built up its own resistance and I can often spot the symptoms when they arrive and self-medicate. However, I do wish I had met Howard all those years ago and taken the advice available on this website and been armed with a bottle of incognito. We have recently been testing incognito ourselves with clients and colleagues – who both had the same experience while holidaying in the Caribbean: when they used incognito they were never bitten when they forgot to use it they both got bitten.