IF WE pay attention, all things unfold. Thursday, April 4, I was with a team on my way to New Amsterdam. On the way up, the discussion about the two Chinese deaths at the then diagnosed suspected infection of histoplasmosis was central, though the media mentioned leptospirosis. I had never heard of the former infection, which upon seeking further clarification from my colleague who is a reliable source; I became aware that this infection was a result of coming into contact with ‘bat dung’ and inhaling spores. This incident with the Chinese had its genesis at the resuscitation of the Manganese mines in the Region 1 Matthews Ridge (Barima/Waini) district, a total of 13 persons were under medical supervision. What sparked my further attention and alarm is when he informed me that bat dung is widely used in growing Marijuana, what I know of these mammals, is that bats are like swine they carry and contain viruses that do not affect them but are carriers of infections that can infect and kill humans, so do other mammals and primates, but bats and pigs are in a special category. I decided that on my return to Georgetown on the evening of the 5th that that Saturday, I would ask friends about this bat dung manure business.
By Saturday afternoon I was humbled in realising that I was completely sailing. I was assured that this was common knowledge in the Ganja business; that a bag (the size of a small rice bag) of this stuff could cost as much as ten grand. With one brethren, I learnt that he had some of this bat dung stashed and it caused the polythene bag to rot after a while, but he wasn’t inspired and dumped it, that’s what he said. I immediately reflected on the advice a few of us got decades ago in a one-off chat with the late character ‘Bittle’ that nobody should use the space behind the then furnace to play football because the cholera victims were buried there. I ignored Bittle because what did he know about such things? Only that time he was right and worse, I also learnt that Cholera is one of the diseases that survive the grave; meningitis is another. So what can a plant grown from dung saturated with dangerous viruses do? A plant whose leaves are lit and then inhaled, what are the risks?
Everyone over 50 agrees that the “Dounes” tree or any fruit tree near the wooden yard latrine bears the biggest and sweetest fruit. But, this is bat dung. The Bat is recorded as having a presence on earth of some 52 million years. This is a creature in many ways superior as a species to many others, and it’s a mammal that can fly and even more incredible it is the host of some 50 viruses that can infect humans. In research on bat guano (dung) studies have revealed that “Recent research looking at Bat Guano suggests there are a number of viral agents we don’t have much information on, he said. [Tiny and nasty images of things that make us sick] Jamie Childs, a zoonosis disease epidemiologist, Yale University.” It is well known that infected organic manure can infect fruits, and likewise the humans that use these fruits. Bats are an integral species to the planetary ecosystem, most of them eat fruit, in the context of this article humans are the problem.
In a Review from the Department of Environmental Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, Chulalongkorn University Thailand titled “Bat Guano as the component of Fertilizer or the Health hazard” they emphasise the potency of Bat Guano as a phosphorous source, and follow with this argument “ The objective of this review is to give information nowadays about the realisation of phosphorous scarcity, to manifest the advantage of Bat guano as phosphorous source and also as histoplasmosis outbreak for making the decision of whether to use Bat guano in phosphorous inadequacy issue as well as to present the safety and security policies for Bat guano collection in case of Bat guano will be used as phosphorous source.” This review though translated into halting English is very informative. It also cites a fungal form of histoplasmosis and other fungal diseases and emphasises that it is expensive to treat. Where the concern of this writer rests is in the prevalence of bat guano used in marijuana cultivation. While sourcing the bland academic medical articles, there are also numerous attractively packaged articles that insist on the usefulness of Bat guano for the excellent growth of Marijuana.
Again I reiterate that from the prevalence of marijuana in this country, no government has had the courage to even insert in a primary school booklet on addictive diseases the dangers of mind-altering drugs to compete with the exaggerated foolishness that is presented to our youth and even older folk on falsified magical positives of such substances. We are vulnerable because of the resource limitations, and more blatantly the lack of ‘Will’ to address what is considered a popular indulgence, upon enquiry several levels of responsible services know of this particular manure, that the farmers themselves are the more vulnerable to infection, yet this information is not out here. This popular indulgence has been allowed to grow into a social monster because the theory is incomplete that proposes that prosecution will alone defeat a creature that is also a sub-culture philosophy, an addictive enchantment, devastating to many, rewarding to others, that is now joined by Ecstacy.