Day 6 – Brucellosis Case

February 25, 2011

We arrived late yesterday in Karatu, in just enough time to check in and eat and go to bed. We are all awoken every night in the same way by the sounds of donkey, owl, and rooster and maybe monkey, always seemingly the same order. We leave early this morning for Endulen Hospital deep in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area out in the bush. We see the Ngorongoro Crater and have coffee at the nearby lodge to gain entry into the park. We travel far into regions where tourists have never gone. Here we see the Massai and we are in their territory.

The Massai here hunt and gather for their food. They walk miles and miles for food, water or medical treatment. Often the young children are tending to the cattle with no adult in sight. The Massai warriors antagonize the lion, if they kill a lion they are seen as a hero amongst the village. There are around 100 lion bites a year according to the Doctor at this hospital. The hospital has an x-ray machine and some surgical capabilities. They exist here on donation. We see cases of Brucellosis. This disease is caused by a gram negative bacillus. It is usually seen as an occupational disease of those who work with cattle. However, here you see it through the ingestion of unpasteurized milk. The Massai still drink the blood and milk directly from the cow. It causes fever, lymph node involvement and severe arthritis, but complications can vary. Although the Massai are educated to boil the milk often times this does not happen. It is hard to describe the environment, it is easy to say, “Just boil it”, but this tribe lives day to day dealing with getting enough food and not succumbing to animals hunting them as hyenas, lions and other animals compete for food in this region. Hyenas are particularly vicious as the hunt in packs and will go into their homes attacking them as they sleep. Medications are limited and pain control is not always available even in cases with children. This is one of my hardest days as I watch a young burn victim being treated.

We next visited the Olduvai Gorge also known as the “Cradle of Mankind”. This is one of the best known archeological sites. The oldest known human footprints were found here in the 1970’s and were dated to be 3.75 million years old. One of the most famous skulls, a 1.8 million year old ape skull was found in 1959 by Mary Leakey. It’s a unique area as almost 2 million years ago volcanic ash was laid down in a sequential order allowing the preservation of many of these fossils.

Massai waiting at the hospital to be treated.

Showing a Massai her picture for the first time.

The Ngorongoro Crater

Typical Massai Village

The Olduvai Gorge

X-Ray Machine

The Operating Room (O.R.)