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In Learn More the National Geographic magazine team shares some of its best sources and other information to expand your knowledge of our featured subjects. Special thanks to the Research Division.

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Did You Know?Did You Know?

Author Luc-Henri Fage's friend Guillaume Artur du Plessis died of leptospirosis in a Jakarta clinic after being admitted only five hours before. He had acquired the severe flu-like disease from wading in a river on their 1988 trek across Borneo. Leptospirosis doesn't have to be fatal, however; Guillaume had been weakened by malaria.
Some patients describe leptospirosis as "the worst flu ever." Occasionally referred to as rat fever or Weil's disease, leptospirosis is an acute bacterial infection affecting both animals and humans. In its early stages it can be mistaken for the flu, and in the more severe later stage it can mimic dengue fever.
In its mild form, leptospirosis is fairly common in the United States and around the globe. Many different animals—rats, dogs, farm and wild animals—can carry the bacterium, and the infection progresses similarly in both animals and humans. The disease is frequently caught by coming into contact with infected animal urine or water contaminated by it. About 20 percent of rats in the developed world carry the bacterium. In the U.S. it is considered a summertime illness, picked up while swimming or wading in contaminated water, such as urban ponds, slow-moving rivers, or canals that rats or other animals frequent.
Others likely to contract the virulent disease are farmers, field workers, veterinarians, and military personnel, especially those in tropical or rainy areas. It can take up to four weeks to develop symptoms, which can include headache, conjunctivitis, fever, chills, and vomiting. If the disease progresses to its second, more severe phase, the person may experience jaundice and kidney or liver failure. Antibiotics such as penicillin should be given as early as possible. Recently, an outbreak of leptospirosis killed more than 30 people in Guyana after extensive flooding ravaged the small country.
For more information, visit these websites:
Leptospirosis Information Center
Learn more about the disease and read expert medical advice.
Centers for Disease Control
Check out this comprehensive list of bacterial diseases, such as anthrax, meningitis, and leprosy.
Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine
Leptospirosis is famously a "disease of rats," but in reality rodents are remarkably immune. They may be carriers of the disease, but they don't fall ill. Dogs can. Citing an alarming increase in leptospirosis cases, bacteriologists in the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine's Diagnostic Laboratory are urging dog owners to watch for symptoms of the disease until improved vaccines are available.
—Taryn L. Salinas

Related Links

This is the homepage for the multidisciplinary team studying the cave paintings in East Kalimantan on the island of Borneo. On this site, you can e-mail the authors(Luc-Henri Fage and Jean-Michal Chazine), learn about past expeditions, and see amazing photos of exquisite prehistoric artwork. In French and English.
Tourism Indonesia
This is the official site for Indonesia's Department of Tourism, where you can learn about national holidays, important cultural sites, and the rare and beautiful creatures that live in Indonesia, like orangutans and the Sumatran tiger.
National Speleological Society
Begin to explore the fascinating world of caving and cave conservation.


Bahn, Paul G. The Atlas of World Archaeology. Checkmark Books, 2000.
Bahn, Paul G. Cambridge Illustrated History: Prehistoric Art. Cambridge University Press, 1998.
MacKinnon, Kathy, and others. The Ecology of Kalimantan: Indonesian Borneo. Periplus Editions, 1996.

"Rock Art in Borneo: A Blast From the Past that Marks the Start of a Unique Means of Expression." French National Center for Scientific Research Press Release, February 22, 2000. Available online at www.cnrs.fr/cw/en/pres/compress/borneo.html.

NGS Resources

Coulson, David. "Preserving the Sahara's Prehistoric Art." National Geographic (September 1999), 82-89.
Coulson, David. "Ancient Art of the Sahara." National Geographic (June 1999), 98-119.
Stuart, George E. "Maya Art Discovered in Cave." National Geographic (June 1999), 98-119
Crosby, Harry. "Baja's Murals of Mystery." National Geographic (November 1980), 692-702.
Long, Mitchell. "Utah's Rock Art: Wilderness Louvre." National Geographic (January 1980), 96-117.

Lewis-Williams, David. "Paintings of the Spirit: Rock Art Opens a New Window Into the Bushman World." National Geographic (February 2001), 118-25.
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