The revelation today that King Tutankhamun "Tut" most likely died of malaria is intriguing. I narrowly survived an infection of cerebral malaria when I was 10 years old. We lived just outside of Dar es Salaam, the capital of Tanzania, and because my father did not believe in Western medicine, he forbade my mother from seeking treatment for me when I fell ill. If treated at the immediate onset of symptoms the chances of recovery are quite high.
However, by the time she took me into Dar to the hospital, I beyond the threshold of medical intervention. The doctors told my mother to take me home and prepare for my death. My mother did take me home where I lapsed into a coma while she tried everything she knew to break the fever. My mother is a woman of great faith, though not dogmatic nor "religious," she believes in G-d with every fiber of her being and it was the power of her faith and prayers that pulled me through.
Even after I emerged from the coma I remained critically ill for many months afterward. I was one of the lucky few who survive cerebral malaria in which mortality rates for patients is as high as 50%. It should come as no surprise the King Tut succumbed to this particularly pernicious disease as malaria in general is the number one killer in the world today with a 90% percent of malaria-related deaths occurring in sub-Saharan Africa.
However, it is a little disappointing to learn the truth of his demise because like so many others, I reveled in speculations of palace intrigue, royal malfeasance, murder and usurpation. Today, the world learned that King Tut was merely a boy, one who had access to and buried with the riches of ages, but a frail boy nonetheless who died from a very treatable infection.
- Benin makes headway in attempt to reduce deaths from malaria | Alex Duval Smith (guardian.co.uk)
- A short visit to the King Tut Exhibition (secondphaseofmylife.wordpress.com)
- King Tut returns to Seattle (seattlepi.com)
- The Man behind the Mask (rajultrivedi.wordpress.com)
- Malaria deaths drop, but disease may be more lethal than we thought (arstechnica.com)