It's hard to imagine how a microbe beyond the visual capability of the naked eye can wreak such havoc when inoculated into a weak, unsuspecting body.
Orienta tsutsugamushi under the electron microscope. Don't ask me where the germ is.
Sometime during our leisurely evening walk along a forested track on Yang Ming National Park the previous weekend in Taipei, a mite took to the liking of biting on my left forearm. Unsuspecting at most, the aforementioned bacteria had entered a human host.
Over the following several days, the host develops increasingly severe fever, with postural hypotension, malaise and severe chills in the peripheries (sounding too professional for you?).
Yours sincerely is brought up to realize the importance of every single penny, and hence like all other traditional Chinese, resorts to seeking medical treatment as the last resort in most circumstances. Even though he is trained to become a physician in future and realizes the importance of early diagnosis and treatment, many a time we'll all assume it's a virus, or it's common cold, it'll go away in 2 days.
And it did not. By the 4th day the chill was very bad. Nails turn purplish, and even with paracetamol the fever recurs with greater intensity and force with every Panadol. With chance, the diseased met with Prof. Hsu, the Head of Pathology of TCU. He advised yours sincerely to seek medical attention immediately as he suspects it being a typical case of scrub typhus.
"Will it get better by itself?" yours sincerely asked naively. That was when Prof. Hsu mentioned his experience as a pathologist - post-morteming several typhus patients, deceased. And that scrub typhus has a mortality rate of 40% if untreated.
Realizing 20 is too young an age to die, and there are many more dreams not yet realized - such as visiting Istanbul and flying round-the-world in First Class, yours sincerely skipped the remaining lesson and headed to the hospital.
It took several tabs of antibiotics to eradicate the unpleasantness, but the amount of tests done before that was chilling to say the least. Hospitals are required to report cases of scrub typhus to the Center of Disease Control (CDC). Bottles of blood samples were collected, and even the technician gawked at the amount of blood sample tubes laying on the desk waiting to be filled with my infectious fluid. X-rays were taken. And I received a phone call dictating me to "make sure you take the drug on time, rest well, and return for another series of tests next week."
I feel well enough to fly round-the-world in First Class today, but I lacked the money. On another hand, our very own Malaysia Airlines regains its position of World's Best Cabin Staff 2009, making this a sixth. This is a recognition of warmth and hospitality of all Malaysians! Malaysia Boleh!
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