In 2014, a young Kenyan man named Aditya Dutta was sitting in the waiting room of a nearby hospital.
The emergency room had just opened and there were no beds available.
His mother had been told the hospital had a long list of cases that needed urgent attention.
She was right.
“There was a girl with a big head and a face like a frog,” said Dutts mom, Dineen.
“She had a big fever and a rash.
She didn’t look healthy.”
When Adityas dad called to check on her, she had been diagnosed with malaria.
The doctors had said that she should stay home for a while to get her fever down.
But they had no idea how to treat her malaria.
Adityanath Duttas death was an anomaly in Kenya.
There were 1,500 malaria cases per 100,000 people in Kenya, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
That’s just under 1.6 million cases per year.
In a country where malaria is endemic, that’s a lot of cases.
But it was an extremely rare case.
In just the first few months of 2015, the number of cases jumped nearly 100 percent.
That’s when the emergency room in Kenya began receiving more cases than usual.
Duttya had been admitted to the emergency department for malaria.
It took three hours for her fever to go down to the right level, and then another 20 minutes for the rash to clear up.
Her mom said that her daughter was a “beautiful girl” and a “great girl” — and the nurse who cared for her had helped her become the “first” case of malaria in the entire country.
She’d been in the emergency center since the day she arrived.
“I saw her in the ambulance,” said her mother, who asked that her last name not be used.
“My eyes just glazed over.
She had a huge fever and I didn’t think she’d survive the night.
She came out of the ambulance and she was in her wheelchair.
She looked at me, and I thought she was going to collapse.”
But Dutya was alive.
Her condition had improved, and she had regained consciousness.
The next day, the emergency doctor at the emergency ward took her home to a hospital for observation.
Her fever had dropped to normal, and the rash had cleared up.
After that, her parents had no further concerns.
“We were happy,” said the mother, now 42 years old.
“It was just like that.
She woke up and went back to bed.”
It was the first of three cases.
That was in February 2015.
By the end of March, the total number of malaria cases in Kenya was 2,946.
By April, it was 3,965.
By May, it had climbed to 4,611.
“Every single day, they came to the ER,” said Shireen Duttle, a professor of medical ethics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
“The hospital was filled to the brim with patients with malaria.”
A hospital nurse was called to assist Dutte’s mom in getting the case out of there.
She found that Adityachad had not only recovered but had become a mother of two.
“Now she has a healthy, vibrant child,” Duttal said.
“This is a miracle.”
And then there was the case of a young woman named Niyazuddin.
Her case had only been reported last month, but now there was reason to believe she’d survived the disease.
In April, she was admitted to an emergency room at the King George Medical College Hospital in Nairobi for malaria, and was later transferred to the Kenyan Emergency Department, where she remained for a total of five days before being released to her family.
Her malaria had died down, and now her condition had stabilized.
But Niyaze was still in the hospital with a fever of 109 degrees, a temperature of 104 degrees, and a temperature that was “too high to stay in the bed,” according to an email obtained by National Geographic.
“If it were not for the nurses, I would have died,” she told National Geographic on a recent day.
“That is why I came back here.
I want to prove that I am alive.”
In May, she recovered and started going to work.
But the hospital was still seeing far more cases, with more and more cases coming in.
By July, the entire emergency department had seen nearly 1,700 cases of malaria per day.
That meant more and bigger beds to accommodate more and larger patients.
And more and even more people needed treatment.
The numbers grew, and so did the staff.
By September, the hospital saw more than 6,200 patients, according for the month of October.
“As the numbers grew in October, the staff started seeing more cases,” said Dr. Atsushi Nagayama, a