Island fever, medically known as scrub typhus, is a serious illness and, untreated, has a mortality rate as high as 30%. Symptoms include an extremely high fever, accompanied by a severe headache. In some cases, island fever may also affect the central nervous system & cause confusion, speech difficulties, or hearing problems.
Expatriates living on islands, like Malta, are particularly susceptible to island fever so it’s important to self-diagnose. But feeling hot with a headache is pretty common during a Maltese summer, so before visiting your doctor, here’s a quick self diagnosis for island fever.
Start with a quick analysis of your recent medical history answering “yes” or “no” to these 3 questions:
1. Is it more than three months since you were last out of Malta?
2. Have you had any recent dealings with a government department?
3. Are you currently having any building or alterations made to your home?
If you answered “yes” to any of these questions you may well have island fever so check for further symptoms of confusion, speech difficulties, or hearing problems. Have you asked a third party in Malta any of the following questions?
1. Why hasn’t it been done yet? (answer triggered confusion)
2. How can you say that that’s what I asked for? (answer triggered speech difficulties)
3. It can’t be done until when? (answer triggered hearing difficulties)
If you’ve answered “yes” to any of these, you can be fairly confident that your self-diagnosis is correct and and that you are, indeed, suffering from island fever.
The cure for island fever is a simple seven day course of antibiotics that must be taken abroad. It is important you complete the course even if you start to feel better after a couple of days away. Expatriates who fail to take the complete course abroad have a 30% chance of leaving Malta permanently.
So if you’re an expat in Malta, and suffering from the symptoms of island fever, take a week’s holiday abroad. Recharge your batteries. And then come back to enjoying life on the island.
Will Leader is a founder of expatsmalta.com.
Photo: Walter Lo Cascio