A series in which I make you feel less lonely, realizing how many other pandemics humans have lived through.
Ethiopian Malaria Epidemic of 1958
This is our newest epidemic thus far. I know people who saw 1958 in person.
The villain today, such as she is: the anopheles gambiae mosquito.
Anopheles gambiae like both fresh and salt water. Females lay about 200 eggs on the surface of the water. While the eggs float about, the larvae breathe through little holes in their butts.
When resting, these mosquitos stand up straight as soldiers, and when feeding, they bend way down like a hungry giraffe spotting a doughnut on the ground.
In their eating habits, the females are like vampires, and the males live like Gandhi.
Their conservation status is listed as “no thank you.”
A very wet and very warm rainy season ended in June 1958. Yes, Ethiopians were just trying to get healthy after a famine in 1957, when the merciless universe threw more crap at them: a malaria epidemic.
Now, I know you’re saying, Liz, isn’t malaria treatable? It is. Why weren’t these people treated? Well, they didn’t have enough hospitals, and they certainly did not have enough of the right medications.
I ‘m going to put the worst of it in this paragraph: about 3.5 million people got malaria. And about 175,000 people died. In western Ethiopia, so many people were ill that crops stayed in the fields. Food needed by people was instead eaten by wild animals. Children under the age of 2 only had a 50% chance of surviving. Previous malarial infection also makes children more likely to suffer from other infections as they get older.
The people of Ethiopia’s lower elevations fared better. Malaria was always hanging around there, so many people had already survived it.
Let’s enjoy some music of Ethiopia:
The backup dancers in Yared Negu and Millen Hailu’s video are having SO MUCH FUN, and I also like the telephones. Get me that prop master.
Also enjoy Alemu Aga singing the Lord’s Prayer in Amharic, accompanied by a begena lyre (a.k.a., David’s harp). He started training on this instrument at age 12. Ethiopia is one of the most ancient of Christian places, and this instrument has been used in religious context for a very, very long time.