Let’s be honest my fellow Australian citizens and natives. If there was any nation in the world that could battle giant spider mutants or one handedly wrestle crocs, it would be us. There is a long list of horrific things that would normally induce sweaty fear under armpits that we simply wave away, smack at or say “poohpooh” to. This seems to be giving our tiny Asia Pacific island a bad rep. An island of terror and drop bears. So some evidence for how Australia isn’t that bad, here is a measly group of three nightmarish items not in Australia. I like to think that’s pretty impressive.
- TUMBU FLY
(Google images, a real life Tumbu Fly, looks a bit like a sweet echidna with wings hiding a devilish evolutionary drive.)
The Tumbu fly otherwise known as the Putzi fly, Skin Maggot Fly or more gently as the Mango Fly, is a blow fly that circulates in Africa. Going by the scientific name Cordylobia Anthropophaga, it is common across sub-saharan Africa and lays its eggs in damp clothes hung out to dry or in wet ground. On contact with human skin, eggs hatch and larvae bury into the skin causing boil-like sores in humans. Maggots be having a grand old time in your skin and can grow to be a few inches long if left alone. Larvae can survive for up to 15 days waiting for a host. Extraction involves vaseline or other such oil which suffocates the maggot, forcing it to the surface at which point the sore is squeezed to pop the rest of it out. If traveling in Africa, dry your clothes inside or iron all underwear and clothes before wear to kill eggs that have been planted. Also wear shoes.
- BOVINE SPONGIFORM ENCEPHALOPATHY (BSE)
BSE known also by the name of Mad Cow’s Disease is a neurodegenerative disease that affects cattle. It is caused by prions, harmful proteins that damage the nervous system and can be transmitted. Humans who ingest contaminated cattle and become exposed to BSE in this manner can become affected with variant Cretzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD). This is a fatal human neurodegenerative condition. BSE became epizootic in the UK in 1993. That is, it became an epidemic for cattle across the UK and spread to the US, Canada and a number of European countries. In a domino effect, cases of vCJD increased from 1996 and were linked to consumption of diseased meat products. Symptoms of vCJD are those similar to Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases like depression, loss of coordination and later on dementia. Since 1989, the US has banned the importation of certain live animals where BSE is known to exist, including meat products used in human, animal and pet foods. High risk animals are also prohibited from entering the food supply and removal of central nervous system tissue are done to prevent BSE infected products from being consumed. The UK now has a stringent program that excludes all animals older than 2.5 years from human food and animal feed supplies. Similar control measures have been instituted in Europe. It has not been noted in Australia, ever, with a worthy negligible BSE risk status.
- MARBURG VIRUS
(Google images, Egyptian Fruit Bat)
Classified as one of the most aggressive viruses known to infect humans, the other being Ebola Virus, Marburg Virus has not been found in Australia. Characterised by severe and often fatal haemorrhagic fevers – that is, an abrupt fever accompanied by internal bleeding, Marburg Virus is thankfully rare and the few cases recorded have been in Europe of 1967 and Africa sporadically throughout the past decades, the most recent outbreak occurring in Southern Africa, Angola from 2004-2005. Said to be a native of the African continent, the virus is unfortunately shrouded in mystery with its natural animal reservoir in discussion. Infection occurs from direct contact with infected blood, body fluids and tissues of sick persons or the handling of infected wild animals whether dead or alive. Such animals have been observed to be monkeys and fruit bats. As of 2012, fruit bats have been implicated as the possible natural hosts although others are yet to be found.