Sunday, November 11, 2007

The Way to Angkor Wat; Malaria, Dengue Fever

Mosquito Hysteria

The other day at a PP gym I noticed that a lot of the guys were spraying themselves with mosquito repellent. PP is not in a malarial belt, so I asked what was going on. "Dengue fever." This is a nasty little disease carried by mosquitos that has 2 variations: One that can kill you and one that just makes you wish you were dead. The fatal version is a hemorraghic fever that turns your insides into strawberry yogurt, which can ooze out of any orafice. The other version is just a nasty flu-like illness that can last several weeks.

The next day, I took a pleasant 5-hour boat to Siem Riep (SR), the town nearest to Angkor Wat. SR is in a malarial belt. Also, it is in a swampy area infested with mosquitos. My first night, I checked into my hotel (Ancient Angkor, $15/night, decent) and saw a mosquito and no mosquito nets. The hotel clerk said they spray the rooms each night. I went out for dinner and came back. Mosquito was still there and I couldn't smell any spray. I asked the front desk to spray again. They promised. As I was walking around deciding where I wanted my malarial-infected remains sent, I came to a pharmacy. I went inside and explained my concerns about mosquitos. They said they had no nets, but they had a mosquito coil I could burn in my room. I had a question: Is it safe to breath this stuff? (it's made by the company that makes Raid spray) The clerk assured me it would be fine. I figured who better to take medical advice from than a pimpley-faced teenager working at the local pharmacy?

FYI: I have one of the better types of anti-malarial pills, called Malarone. Unfortunately, pills are not 100 percent effective.

I have since gotten at least one mosquito bite here in SR. My room has been sprayed every night and I leave the fan on when I sleep. Supposedly a strong breeze deters mosquitos.