Subtle Assasins

By: Owoeye Williams (Dawilty)

From Dane guns that favour the swift and artilleries that favour the sophisticated, to bombs that favour the burly, humans have evolved with the various methods they use in exterminating their enemies. A unique category among these that evolved from the ancient strategy of archery is that of the snipers – soldiers trained only to kill with precision with as little fuss as possible. There is a saying in military parlance that if you heard the gun sound of a sniper, the odds are that the shot is not meant for you. What this means is that a sniper would have already killed his target even before people get to know that the sniper is around. The efficiency of snipers, however, doesn’t depend on the thickness of their muscle or their combat skills but on their innate act of lurking in the dark and staying invisible until the timing is right for them to wreak their havoc. And when that time comes, it only takes the movement of a finger that pulls a high calibre trigger, releasing just a single shot , and the live of their target – most times valuable and prominent – is truncated.

Interestingly, some conditions and diseases of humans have perfected the art of mimicking this refined act of sniping to also strike us and cause mayhem in our body. They are best termed “the subtle assassins”. Know that pain is a very crucial tool to our survival; despite how unpleasant it is, it serves as a natural alarm that reminds us that we are still alive and can jerk us back to reality. It is nature’s mechanism of telling us about the evils lurking in the dark trying to kill us or already killing us. When we have malaria, we get headache, which is a form of pain, as a symptom. Likewise, when we have an infection on our body, the signal is usually the hurt we feel around the area of infection. Same is applicable when we take substances that are not meant for our stomach. The more excruciating the pain is, the more the likelihood of we running to get help or doing something to get rid of the pain. Unfortunately, some of these subtle killers do not employ all these fanfare of notifications; they have a creepy way of escaping detection by our body sensors, causing harm to our body without our knowledge. They range from terminal and life-threatening illnesses to benign ones that just leave us to wallow away in our ignorance.


This arises as a result of abnormal growth of the cells in the human body when the cells are either exposed to substances that can change the normal processes of the cells or they were subjected to physical trauma. These abnormal cells start growing uncontrollably till they start affecting the normal cells of the body by taking up their space. Unfortunately, the body doesn’t ring any alarm because it still perceives these abnormal cells as part of our body make-up. It takes a keen observation to know that these cells are already in the body, especially when they start forming lumps around the affected areas. The sad news is that when they form in areas out of our sight or touch, like the brain or bladder, it becomes difficult to know the presence of these cells and even if by chance we get to know, they would have already caused irreparable damage to the body.


This is a well-known condition that has grown so prolific in its dealings with human lives that it has earned itself a popular alias, “the silent killer”. Hypertension results when the space in the tube-like vessels that carry blood around our body gets obstructed. This obstruction is done by plaques which consist of fat that has accumulated in our body from the food we eat. As the blood is made to flow through a reduced passage, tension builds up, thereby leading to an increase in the pressure of the blood. With increased pressure comes forceful and abnormal pumping of the blood by the heart, and when the heart becomes overworked, it can collapse out of exhaustion, leading to death. This can happen within a very short period of time, such that a person can be alive now and in the next minute, the individual is pronounced dead meat.

Chronic Kidney Disease

As the name suggests, the primary target here are the kidneys, and the term ”chronic” means it is a disease that lasts for a long period. The two kidneys are the organs saddled with the responsibility of filtering and ridding the body of waste products that are poisonous to the body. Now, imagine for a minute that you live in a house with two soak-away pits but due to some reasons, the two got damaged. Within a couple of days, the sewage will start to leak and the whole house will be turned into a mess. The same thing happens when the kidneys get damaged, and of course, the bad news is that no symptoms get to show until the damage has been done already. To crown it all, no cure exists for this disease; it can only be managed.  Chronic kidney disease can be caused by a number of things, but most of these causes can be avoided by living a healthy lifestyle. Chronic kidney disease can however lead to renal (kidney) failure, which leaves the fate of the individual in the hands of a dialysis machine that serves as an artificial kidney. Alternatively, the damaged kidneys can be replaced via a kidney transplant.


This is a sexually transmitted disease that makes a mockery of us, in that it only gives our body a single clue. The clue is usually a sore around the point of entry of the bacteria called a chancre. The dicey thing about this sore is that it is easily mistaken for a mild infection because it is painless and it disappears with or without treatment within a short time. It then goes into the body to affect every corner, making no noise as it advances. It corrupts the body, the nervous system and even goes as far as affecting babies from infected parents. The infection occurs in different stages: primary, secondary, latent and tertiary. Each stage has its peculiar symptoms, which can range from itching and sore throat in the early stages before advancing to blindness, loss of hearing or mental illness in the advanced stages.

Are we helpless in the hands of these sneaky biological snipers that are bent on ending our existence? No, we aren’t. Just like the best way to deal with a military sniper is not by battling with him, his gun or his bullets which we can’t even see, but by ensuring our environment is safe through constant perimeter check, surveillance and maintenance. These conditions and diseases rely on our weakness in form of behavioural patterns such as smoking, unhealthy diet, exposure to risky sexual activities and the likes. If we can check all these cracks by exercising our body, eating well and practising safe sexual behaviour, we are sure to fortify our body’s defence against these sneaky perpetrators and keep our resistance against them uncompromised

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