ABC CORRESPONDENTS REPORT
Living in exotic places often means exposure to exotic illnesses. Before setting out for Papua New Guinea LIAM FOX was vaccinated for all kinds of diseases. But there's no vaccination for malaria, only short-term preventative medication. Liam had managed to avoid the disease for three years but sadly his luck finally ran out.
IT WAS 2AM AND I was standing under a steaming hot shower but couldn't stop shaking with cold. Several hours earlier a wave of fatigue had hit me like a bullet train. Not long after that my whole body began to ache.
Shivering under the shower I thought something is really wrong here. Sleep was impossible. When the sun came up I said to my wife 'I think I've got malaria'.
A quick search on the internet confirmed the symptoms: shaking chills, tiredness and muscle aches.
While malaria is common throughout PNG, the risk of contracting the mosquito-borne disease in Port Moresby is thought to be low. Few residents take preventative medication.
The side effects of taking anti-malarials over an extended period of time can range from an upset stomach, to sensitivity to sunlight, to a severe neuropsychiatric reaction.
Some large multi-national companies require their workers to take the drugs and carry out tests to make sure they do.
But most expats are pretty blasé about it, me included, and most locals couldn't afford the drugs even if they wanted them.
Moresby's been home for three years and a few friends have had malaria in that time. But despite many, many mosquito bites I had avoided it, until now.
I hauled my aching body down to the local clinic and the friendly doctor said it looked to be a case of malaria and ordered a blood test. It came back negative but the doctor said that wasn't unusual and could be because I was in between attacks.
The more likely cause of the negative result he said was because the lab technician examining my blood sample wasn't paying close attention.
He diagnosed malaria, prescribed me two kinds of drugs and sent me on my way.
The shaking chills didn't return and the aches soon went away, but the intense fatigue persisted for several days.
Despite the initial sickness I was pretty lucky. I had quick access to medical care and the money to pay for it.
It's a different story for most Papua New Guineans, who live outside the major cities and towns where health care is rudimentary at best, non-existent at worst.
According to the World Health Organisation nearly 10% of all children who died before reaching the age of five in PNG were lost to malaria.
There has been some promising news in the fight against the disease recently.
Last week Australian researchers announced a PNG trial of a new drug cut rates of infant malaria by 30%.
But the disease remains a fact of life, and death here, and will do for some time.
And it could still be factor in my life as well. People who've been infected with can have additional attacks after months, even years without symptoms. That's because the parasites that cause the disease can remain dormant in a person's liver.
So even when I return to Australia, I could bring a little piece of PNG with me.