A memorable patient: Out of Africa: a rash occurrence

BMJ 1997; 315 doi: (Published 26 July 1997) Cite this as: BMJ 1997;315:i
  1. Richard Dreaper
  1. semiretired general practitioner in Winchester now practising complementary medicine

    “Mgongwa kwa ndui,” said the breathless African forerunner. The last word misled me into expecting a patient with leopard bites, a condition not uncommon in that remote part of Africa in 1963. However the Swahili dictionary showed “ndui” as smallpox, a leopard being “chui.”

    Sure enough 10 minutes later a man covered in pustules was wheeled down the dirt track towards our little 60 bed hospital; “wheeled” because he was on a makeshift bamboo carrier on the back of a bicycle. Local tribal beliefs reserved stretchers for the dead. Rashidi had been pushed about 40 miles by his brother. The patient, an estimated 55, was able to give an accurate account of the fever that started 10 days earlier; he had presumed it …

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