During preparation time in Germany my colleagues and me made jokes about what actually happens when you get an ordinary flu during the Ebola period in Sierra Leone. I had the honor to experience it quicker than I had preferred.
After less than two weeks in the country I suddenly felt tired. I could not sleep that night, feeling alternation of too hot and too cold. Before regular taking temperature in the morning it was obvious that I was sick. 101°F at the ear. What now?! Temperature is taken at each corner: At the hotel entrance, at the office entrance, at checkpoints throughout the city, in restaurants. Fortunately it was Sunday and I could remain on the hotel premises.
Luckily there is a simple way to find out if it is a common cold or something more serious: Paracetamol. If it is effective, Malaria and Ebola can be excluded as a cause. And it helped. I was actually not particularly worried because I know my body and I know that I catch a cold very quickly if air conditioning is present. Nevertheless, of course, people will be wary about every small detail. Itchy skin? Can Ebola cause skin rash? And what is that, bleeding gums? Does it stop soon or is it extraordinary? Nobody stays cool under those conditions.
Good advice we got at the training in Bonn: Definitely take Malaria prophylaxis. The symptoms of Malaria and Ebola are similar at the beginning, and especially newcomers can not avoid all mosquito bites. Personally, I have decided to take Lariam and had no side effects so far (Lariam is known for psycho-activity, nightmares, depression and even suicidal attempts are not unknown).
Meanwhile, my cold is as good as gone. But I want to avoid further fever incidents if possible. It was not a glorious time.
This article is a translation of Julia’s original article in German language.