Doctors without Borders in Ethiopia: Among the Afar

By Nyla Jo Jones Hubbard | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 3. TEAM LIFE: FLIES, HEAT, AND BACTERIA WITHOUT
BORDERS

I have mentioned the flies but it is difficult to relate how much they impacted our lives. Still in my first month of mission, we began to see Trachoma. Trachoma is caused by bacteria, Chlamydia trachomatis, that flies carry on their legs. The flies love to get fluid from the eyes and they leave the bacteria in the process. The lashes become infected. They swell and begin to turn under. The continual rubbing of the rough lashes against the cornea of the eye results in blindness. Our staff treated the early cases with antibiotics and told the mothers to keep the flies off the children’s faces but, with a growing population of both people and livestock, and inadequate sanitation, I don’t know how much good it did. The national nurses constantly exhorted the patient families to use the latrine and avoid leaving feces around that drew flies. However, our one latrine was never meant for two hundred people and it soon became a mess. Jose had someone sloshing it with water daily but, as the day wore on, I dreaded to use it, which I had to do all too often.

We all had to take malaria preventative. Maria and I took Larium, generic name Mefloquine, a very effective drug that acts against P. falciparum, the most dangerous form of malaria. Maria told me that the men started out taking Larium also, but they were having nightmares

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