Page:A short guide to Syria (1943).djvu/17

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States — a stony soil covered with light vegetation, and with waterholes at fairly frequent intervals.

In a strategic way, the desert is perhaps the most important part of Syria to the United Nations, because across it run the great pipelines from the oil fields of Iraq to the Mediterranean, and also because of its position as the gateway to Persia and India beyond.

Sanitary Conditions. In general, Syria is a healthful country. It even hopes some day to become known as the health resort of the Mediterranean. Still, sanitary conditions in many parts of the country are not like those we are accustomed to, and certain precautions must not be neglected. A little knowledge may help to avoid serious illness.

Keep your hat on when you are in the summer sun in Syria, In this kind of a climate it is very easy to let yourself be burned and think nothing of it. But next day you are likely to wake up with black blisters and possibly fever and delirium. It is not necessary to wear a sun helmet; a service hat is usually sufficient. But whatever

you wear, be sure that it shades the back of your neck as well as the top of your head. If you expose the back of your neck you are inviting sunstroke. Protect your eyes too.

In the desert, be prepared for extremes of temperature. The days are very hot. The nights can be very cold.

Boil your drinking water or see that it is properly chlorinated. There is adequate pure water in the cities of Beirut and Damascus (though not the open river water in the latter city, which is impure).

Avoid eating unwashed lettuce and other raw unwashed vegetables. They may be contaminated by human excrement. Outside the cities, little progress has been made in sanitation. Wash raw fruits or peel them before eating them, because the skins may have become contaminated by flies or by human contact. Keep all food away from flies.

If you keep to these rules you will have a good chance of avoiding typhoid, paratyphoid, and dysentery—all common diseases in Syria. If you do get dysentery or diarrhea, cut your diet and include plenty of "leben" (le-ben). Leben is a sour milk product and is one of the most healthful dishes of the country. It can be mixed with water and drunk as a cooling drink. You will find it easy to obtain and it will relieve dysentery.