Brazzaville Fever .
Malaria takes people in many different ways .
Those prophylactics that you packed
will do no good at all
forgotten in the bottom of your bag .
And anyway ,
incubation takes several unwitting days .
The mosquitos of the Congo delta
swarm in parasitic transfer clouds
above the swollen muddy river .
Where the naive traveller is susceptible
to the proboscis imperceptible
and a dose of raging Brazzaville fever .
The fainting fits that creep up on you
are dismissed as too much sun .
And the hot fever that starts to build
is regarded much the same ,
while seeking out the sanctuary of shade .
Then , simultaneously super-hot
and uncontrollably shivering ,
instantly drained of all energy ,
unable to administer three Nivaquine ,
a temperature of 105 ,
your world has now become
a centrifuge of chattering and quivering .
in a hodgepodge of accelerating symptoms ,
exacerbated by unusual aggression
that only seems to link them .
Succumb to ineluctable exhaustion ,
feel yourself slipping under .
Scare yourself with one last drowsy thought ,
is this just sleep , or coma ?
Next morning , feeling fine !
Just a touch of heat stroke ,
physical infallibility seemingly confirmed .
But by the middle of the afternoon
the shivering is back .
And this time it's much , much worse .
Building in feverish crescendos
that leave all internal organs aching
and your toes and fingers numb .
The parasitic bullet has been fired
from the swamp fever gun .
But this is merely the starting point ,
just the build up ,
over those first few days .
Brazzaville fever has you in it's congolese grip ,
and now ,
you enter the full-blown malarial phase .
Burning and freezing ,
fighting for every shallow , rapid breath .
Falling through space while lying still .
Feeling literally like death .
The vile taste of anti-malaria tabs ,
the sickening drinks of water .
And the virus keeps resisting .
The three dimensional aches and pains .
Everything now has become
indescribably disgusting .
The body soaking , malodorous sweats .
The worst night of your life .
The interminable physical sufferance .
Incongruous hell , and no end to it .
Daybreak brings the sun ,
up over the delta , rising fast ,
casting shafts through the trees and mist .
And causing trouble with your vision .
Everything is too bright , too flat ,
like snow-blindness ,
as the equatorial sun climbs high
on it's zenith tracking mission .
The rays burn as never before ,
and you see flashes of light everywhere you look .
The physical stress is constant ,
reaching breaking point .
The only inviting alternative ,
is death , out there in the bush .
Now reduced to a shivering wreck ,
in the magnifying-glass heat of day ,
sweating , fully-clothed ,
in a sodden sleeping bag ,
too weak to parry the virus blows .
Tears of frustration spring forth ,
you've never been so low .
Then , some time later ,
you wake again ,
disorientated and semi-comotose .
Definitely lost at least one day ,
but back from the land of never never .
Then drop three Fansidar ,
to fight what might still be lurking .
Back amongst the living ,
but haunted by Brazzaville fever .
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