Adventurer Ash Dykes had not suspected he had caught malaria during his epic trek through Madagascar but gradually he felt worse and worse, his eyes hurt and he had agonising headaches. After five days, he finally realised it was time to get immediate help when he woke up and it took him 45 mins to get himself some water.
Ash, 25, from Old Colwyn, north Wales, is the first person to complete a gruelling 1,600-mile walk covering the length of Madagascar via its mountainous ridge. Ash walked more than 3.5 million steps and summited eight mountains to reach Cap d'Ambre – the most northerly point of Madagascar – having set off from the south of the island in September 2015. During his 155-day journey he beat malaria, faced crocodiles & battled through near impenetrable jungle.
Half way though his trek, Ash thought he was suffering from dehydration so he drank plenty of water and cola and ate rice with salt. He managed to reach the village of Tsarasoa where his logistics manager was based, but felt he increasingly ill. Eventually, Ash was rushed to the nearest city three hours away in Fianarantsoa.
By the time he arrived at the hotel where a doctor had come to meet him, his temperature had reached 40 degrees, the room was spinning and he was delirious and suffering with diarrhoea. The doctor on hand said that Ash’s condition had been caught just in time - a few more hours and his life would have hung in the balance. A quick blood test revealed malaria falciparum, the most dangerous form of malaria. Ash was given treatment immediately and his recovery took almost a week. He lost a lot of weight, was very sick, and suffered nightmares and hallucinations but after six days he felt 95% better and continued his record-setting walk, completing it on 15 February 2016.
Ash told us: “I was devastated when I realised it was malaria, my health is hugely important to me and I was worried that the parasite might stay in my body. I wouldn’t wish my experience on anyone, it was truly horrific. Since that time, I’ve come across more and more people who have also suffered, including my guide in Madagascar, who had malaria as a child. It’s really tragic that today a child still dies from malaria every two minutes, yet it is a disease that is so easy to prevent and costs less than £1 to treat”.