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Aberrant Abscesses – Angola Day 2


This seven-year old child arrived with an account of a fall and pain in his right leg. Steve Foster, CEML Medical Director and my esteemed mentor, discovered a deep pus-filled abscess that occupied most of his shin. This abscess Foster drained readily enough. But close examination revealed similar abscess on other locations on the boy’s arms and legs. X-ray of the pelvis suggested an abscess of the hip joint – another potential life-threatening complication – which I’m further probing with the aid of a portable ultrasound.


A deeper question worthy of probing is why a seven-year old child would develop abscesses throughout the body. This phenomenon is rather common in Angola, while almost unknown in North America. Could it be related to malnutrition, especially protein deficiency which is common in this region? Perhaps these abscesses are from Salmonella typhi, a bacteria frequently present in contaminated water? Does poor health literacy among the parents play a role, who unknowingly fail to recognize early signs of disease? Honestly, such questions are often more abundant than answers at CEML Hospital and throughout healthcare in this nation.


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