When we visit Simon Reeve to listen to his story about malaria, he is still embarrassed to
admit that catching the disease was totally his own fault. Simon has gone around the world
three times visiting far-off exotic locations so he was well aware of the health risks when he
travelled to Gabon, West Africa, a malaria hotspot, in 2006. Although he knew how
dangerous the disease is, he still risked his life.
‘It happened while I was filming Equator
,’ recalls Simon. ‘I was told I should start taking
antimalarial tablets the day before I got to Africa and then every day while I was there.
I bought them well in advance, but foolishly, in all the excitement, I didn’t pack them.
Of course it was stupid of me, but I thought everything would be all right so I didn’t worry
about it. I think I was bitten by a mosquito on the first day but I realized something was
wrong several days later. We had finished our journey through Gabon and were going
to the Democratic Republic of Congo the following day. Sophie, the director, Sam,
the cameraman, and I went to have a pizza in a restaurant near our hotel with a couple of
doctors from Germany who were working at the Albert Schweitzer Hospital, one of the main
malaria hospitals in Africa. Suddenly, during the meal I started to get muscle ache and felt
sleepy so I went back to my room and went straight to bed. I woke up at 3 a.m. feeling very
sick. But malaria didn’t come to my mind. We’d come from an area where lots of gorillas had
the deadly Ebola virus and that was my biggest fear. The hospital was far away so I wanted
to contact one of the German doctors but I didn’t have their phone numbers. I decided to wait
until morning but I was really terrified.’
In the morning Simon managed to get up and perhaps rather optimistically tried to continue
filming. ‘Sophie and Sam took one look at me and told me to sit down,’ he says. ‘They checked
my temperature which was 39.8°C – a high fever. They gave me some water and some
medicine and called for a local doctor who examined me and said he suspected I had malaria.
Sophie contacted one of the specialists we had met the day before and after giving me a blood
test he said the diagnosis was correct.
Simon really wants to help reduce the number of malaria infections each year, that’s why
he agreed to have his story published. ‘With modern medicine there is no reason why so many
British travellers should catch this horrible disease,’ he says.
adapted from www.dailymail.co.uk