Fever is/

aka – it isn’t alway Malaria. Although when you are in Africa for more than 8 days it could be a good guess.

This morning we went to the Buikwe Subdivision Hospital where fever was the symotom under consideration. There was an excellent lecture about Ebola (last outbreak in Uganda was 2012 and not the same variant as in West Africa). This is also an areas where Trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness) is endemic. Ward rounds: in a room about this size

yes, exactly this crowded and no better furnished

yes, exactly this crowded and no better furnished

(except with bright animals painted on the wall) where we saw several older mothers caring for their babies on the pediatric ward. Older means 18 with your first child or 26 with your fourth/fifth and most with a child over the age of 12 months were visibly pregnant. We saw sickle cell and cerebral malaria. Unhappy babies and ones that could peak out a smile.

To Build a House

To start – the room I currently have. Please note the frame on the bed. It makes it easier to drape the mosquito netting and have it work while leaving enough space to turn over.

#21 Upstairs

#21 Upstairs


The population density in the rural areas is amazing. If you live in North America, Western Europe or Australia, you know that few people leave outside of the major areas. In North American, rural areas are characterized by long stretches of empty, a few scattered towns and houses surrounded by out buildings and land. In Europe it is most often small tows surrounded by extensive fields under cultivation. In Australia, you are either along the coast or literally “outback” somewhere that no one usually goes.

Uganda has 85% of its population in rural areas. It isn’t just the houses and shops lining both sides of the road at what are probably towns even tho there are no town names, road signs or route numbers. I can understand the concept of “Plot Number” but do not appreciate at all what it might tell me about location. People are continually in motion. There are children all over the place: in school yards, walking along the roads, playing in front of the house, working in the fields, sitting with their mother as she sells vegetables from a road side stand. There is absolutely no question that children form half of the population.


From the Buikwe Subdivision Hospital where we saw babies, discussed African Trypanosomiasis and Ebola we took a drive to both have lunch near Lake Victoria and see one of the local fishing villages (small smelly fish which require drying….). While we were at it, we set a TseTse fly trap to see what we could capture. These critters are first cousins to horse flies and we all know how great it feels to be bitten…

simple and effective trap. the flies come to the dark colors, then always fly "up" when they take off, becoming trapped in the netting

simple and effective trap. the flies come to the dark colors, then always fly “up” when they take off, becoming trapped in the netting

For those of you who haven’t met them – tsetse flies are nasty biting flies capable of happily transmitting parasites from infected mammal to uninfected in pursuit of blood – a favorite food. Since they are so effective in disease transmission, they have been well studies in the lab, as well as extensive vector control programs. (Trapping, release of irradiated males…..)

One wonders about their place in the food chain. Effective disease vectors, still something else had to have been eating them. I couldn’t find any information at all about what species, a bird perhaps, used to find this fly a nice juicy treat. Not that I want disease back. The effect on humans, livestock and wild animal populations was devastating but some critter somewhere has lost their lunch.

I started thinking about where all these children and their relatives live. You may have a landlord who owns the land, most of the time you are responsible for your own shelter. Round houses with mud dabbed walls and thatched roofs are out. Not only are they impossible to live it, but they provide an absolutely wonderful vector habitat.

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So you want to build a house. First you either make your own bricks or buy them from someone who is in the business. Made from the local iron rich red clay they are stacked in a standard form and the outside is coated. A fire is then started inside and is maintained until the bricks are hard enough to build with. Age them a bit along the side of the road.

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When you have time/money, draw out the walls, then start the layers after leveling your dirt floor.

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Maybe sometime in the future you will be able to afford to pour cement inside to have a solid floor.  If you have money, you can buy supplies – including your bricks and mortar from a commercial store –


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Continue building your walls, leaving space on one side for doors and windows. Make one side of the roof higher than the other so it slants and the water will run off and away.  (Gutter could collect rain water, but then still water could also provide a breeding place for insects).  If you don’t have money for the roof right now, you can always start raising crops inside the buiing. (which means that like Death Valley in the Balkans – trees inside a currently unoccupied house doesn’t mean war, someone died or the house was bombed.)

When you have a bit more money add the tin roof. Even better, you can have windows and a door rather than cloth curtains.

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The white X you see on some of the buildings is from the Transportation/Highway Department. Sometime in the future this is going to become a paved road and probably two lanes. The houses in question are going to have to be taken out to build the road….

and ending with birds

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