Thursday, May 30, 2013

reading notes, entry 6...

*The Fever: How Malaria Has Ruled Humankind for 500,000 Years by Sonia Shah.

Why I read it now:

It came very highly recommended by Eva, and it fit into the medical/psychological issues theme month, and it was sitting right there on the library shelf taunting me.

Overall thoughts:

I loved this book! It was not only well-written and completely accessible, it was fascinating as hell. Nothing about malaria is uncomplicated. Every facet of the story is complex, from the continual evolution of Plasmodia to the pharmacologic efforts to stop it to the differing views of those who live day-to-day with malaria and those in the Western world who are so determined to wipe it out. Malaria has played major roles in world history, as well as major roles in personal histories. And Sonia Shah does a wonderful job relating all these facets of this much-feared disease.

I'd like to say that this is a hopeful book, but it's not. But what Sonia Shah produced with this book is a well-rounded and realistic look at malaria on this planet of ours.

Just a few of the interesting tidbits contained in its pages:

*Plasmodium has seven different forms during its life cycle.

*Once a mosquito is sated with blood, she flies to a vertical surface and spends 45 minutes excreting all the water from the blood so she is once again light enough to fly unburdened.

*While I already knew of malaria's connection to sickle cell, I had never before heard of its connection to favism. Actually, I don't believe I'd ever even heard of favism before at all.

*The Romans had some interesting "cures" for malaria. Being a vegetarian, I wold have had to choose the honeysuckle dissolved in wine over the liver of a seven-year-old mouse or the bedbugs eaten with eggs and wine.

New-to-me words:

transmogrify--to change in appearance or form, especially strangely or grotesquely

impluvia--a cistern or tank in Roman dwellings set in the atrium to receive water from the roof

Quote postcards sent:

Heather: 1 with "capricious"


Jean said...

I can't believe you had to look up "transmogrify." I had you pegged for a huge Calvin and Hobbes fan, and that's where I first learned that word. On a more serious note, malaria is big-time bad, and several of the anti-malarial drugs have their own set of bad side effects. I know this from having to decide what anti-malarial we would take for our side trip to Cambodia.

Debi said...

Nope, never read any Calvin and Hobbes. :( But I have fallen in love with the word transmogrify. :)

Eva said...

Yay! So glad you loved this too.

I'm going to have to take anti-malarials for at least a bit in Ecuador (mainly the Amazon, since the rest of where I'll be is high enough up in the mountains to not be at risk). There are some pretty intense options out there! I'm going to go w the one that's just an antibiotic, but it seems perverse to take at least 4 weeks worth of antibiotics just on the off chance. *sigh*

Heather said...

And I LOVED my quote! :)

AND seriously. You've never read Calvin & Hobbes? Run, don't walk, to the library and get a collection. It's only the best comic EVER. You will love it. I swear, you will.

Debi said...

Oh my gosh, I definitely did love it!
And I understand how you must feel...there just aren't a lot of good options. But you know you can't do nothing either.

And Calvin & Hobbes, here I come! With recommendations from both you and Jean, I KNOW I can't miss! :D

Eva said...

Yes, and of course I feel horribly privileged to be weighing those options while the locals might not have access/money to protect themselves.

Chris Howard said...

I missed when Eva reviewed this one obviously!! I need to get it I think!