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Stuffed Ear

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It was a hot, sticky summer day when young Jerry Taylor and his family arrived at their vacation home. Every year they would fly down from Philadelphia to spend the summer at Lake Keowee, in South Carolina, and this year was no different in that regard.

However, this was the first year of Jerry being able to swim. He eagerly ran into the lake alongside his parents, and though he had only had a few months of swimming lessons, in his mind he was a professional, diving under the water and paddling himself a few feet from shore before his parents made him come back to shallow water. They spent a few hours enjoying themselves, before they decided to go back to the house and get some dinner.

That was when Jerry first complained about his right ear feeling particularly stuffy and irritated. “You’ve got water in your ear,” his father told him, while his mother ordered a pizza. “It should go away eventually.”

However, he continued to complain about his ear problems for the next week, and his parents spent half of their time trying to find ways to help him. Nothing worked. The rubbing alcohol and vinegar mix his mother was fond of using did reduce the pain, but he continued feeling as though there was something clogging up his ear.

On the tenth day of their vacation, Jerry had refused to wake up and go fishing with his father, despite them having made the plans the day before, with his son having been eager to catch something. He said he couldn’t sleep because he was too cold, despite that the window had been shut and that night had reached 90° F. A quick temperature check revealed he had a fever. Their plans scrapped, that day was then spent looking over their sick child and trying to figure out what was wrong with him. It wasn’t flu season, and his parents had spent a close eye on what their son had been doing. He couldn’t have eaten anything strange, and there was no bug bite in sight. 

They decided to wait and let the fever break naturally, but instead, Jerry only got worse. When his temperature reached 102° F, he was rushed to the nearest hospital. Though his parents were focused on the more obvious problems, he had made sure the doctor knew about the problem in his right ear as well. His parents had almost forgotten about it, so they were even more surprised than their son was when the doctor reported what the problem was.

Jerry had a large, swollen mosquito bite inside his ear canal. The mosquito itself was nowhere to be seen, and it was assumed to have left after infecting the child. From there, it was eventually deduced that the boy was struggling with a particularly bad strain of Malaria, known as P. Falciparum. This type of the disease was mostly prevalent in sub-Saharan Africa, and it was also the most deadly.

The hospital immediately started working on treating him, sending a continuous flow of antiparasitic drugs into the bloodstream. But their efforts started too late, and Jerry Taylor passed away during the third week.

His parents returned home as fast as possible in order to mourn alongside their family and friends. They had rushed back to Philadelphia so quickly, in fact, that they never noticed the mosquito bite on his father’s calf.