Late scratching

Two nights ago I woke up when I felt something on my arm. When I flinched, whatever it was jumped from my arm onto my chest and in two hops was off me and scuttling away into the darkness leaving me with a slightly higher than normal heart rate and some scratches on my arm.
The next morning, while I was waiting to see the doctor to get a tetanus injection and some cream for the scratches, I remembered an article I’d found in amongst the subterranean, jumbled mess that is the postgrad library at Haramaya University. The article’s title pretty much sums up the content: Occurrence of rabies in humans and animals in Addis Ababa in 2001-2002
I’m not sure whether the municipality in Addis had introduced garbage collection by that time so not sure if there were a lot of hyenas in the city itself, but there have always been hyenas around the periphery. During the period 2001-2002 in one hospital in Addis, four people were admitted for post-exposure rabies treatment after having been bitten by hyenas. And the number that were admitted for the same treatment after having been bitten by dogs: 1,475. I know who my best friends are.
Even if you’ve been vaccinated for rabies, after exposure you need a booster. But the doctor told me that there is no such thing available in Harar because there are no cases of rabies! And certainly not in rats, he insisted. For such things you need to go to Dire Dawa which apparently all your favourites including rabies and malaria. Strangely, I didn’t find that reassuring and would much prefer it if the post-exposure treatment was available in Harar considering there are a couple of hyenas that insist on biting me and slobbering on my arm. Speaking of which, I took the opportunity to ask the doctor how many cases of hyena bites he treats in a year and the answer was 3 or 4. Not many at all and even more interesting was that the doctor said the same thing that the doctor from Jugol Hospital told me last year. All of the cases of hyena bites come from outside of Harar. There are never cases of hyena bites from inside the town. Now, if only they could say the same about the rats.


3 thoughts on “Late scratching

  1. Two nights later, still alive? Were you able to get tested or were you just doing prevention with the tetanus & rabies injections?

    I’d love to visit Harar some day. I’m dying to see hyenas.

    Hyenas are the only reason why I ever visit zoos. They are also the reason why I always leave disappointed:
    – San Diego zoo: Hyenas are being transferred to a different location. Can’t be seen at this time.
    – San Francisco zoo: Ah. No hyenas.
    – Columbia, SC zoo: hyenas are sleeping, hidden behind high grass. I wait for one hour: they don’t move an inch.
    – Zoo du Faron, Toulon, France: last time I went I was 8. I was young and innocent, I thought hyenas were horrible animals.


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