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Dengue Fever

A Disease in what should be paradise

mosquito

The dengue carrying mosquito bites during the day.

Dengue is a relatively new mosquito-borne viral disease endemic to more than 120 countries throughout Latin America, the Pacific and Asia. It is spreading rapidly and you need to be aware as you travel. It is also spreading in the USA.

Nicknamed breakbone fever, dengue can be extremely painful and debilitating flu-like illness that can lead to life-threatening complications such as dengue haemorrhagic fever (DHF) and dengue shock syndrome (DSS). The disease is caused by four closely related virus serotypes of the genus Flavivirus. Infection provides lifelong immunity against the infecting sterotype but not the other three and there is now some possibility of immunisation.

Encouragingly, the number of deaths due to dengue is falling due to better clinical management and the implementation of PAHO/WHO guidelines. The new fear is Zika Virus that's said to cause deformities in foetal development. Learn more about dengue.

A personal experience

Hello, in most descriptions of dengue, the information speaks of painful symptoms, however I had none. Here's what happened to me.

Despite that I thought I was taking reasonably good precautions, I personally had the misfortune to contract Dengue fever on a holiday in the Philippines in 2012. I later calculated that I may have been bitten by a mosquito when visiting a fish farm with city officials and symptoms became apparent about two weeks later. The only symptom I felt was that of a sense of languor which I put down to the tropical climate and laid back lifestyle, however my family suggested that I looked unwell.

I began to feel a little weaker than normal and as my family said I looked unwell, I went to a doctor. A blood test was taken and my white blood cell count was a little lower than normal but not dangerous. I was asked to return in 24 hours which I did and again a blood test showed my white cell count lower than the day before indicating that I most likely had dengue fever.

Armed with that knowledge, arrangements were made and I was admitted to the Dagupan hospital in Luzon. This was in fact the newest large hospital where staff had a lot of experience with dengue patients.

I was immediately put onto an intravenous fluid drip and a milk based nutrient drip. There is no medication to combat dengue, the only treatment is through nutrition and keeping the body strong.

The hospital food was something of a challenge and fortunately I had family who could go out and get meals from local restaurants. All this time, the only physical discomfort were the IV needles and hospital confinement. I had absolutely no physical aches or pains, only a sense of lethargy and boredom as there was nothing much to do except watch TV.

This treatment lasted for three days and on the fourth day the drips were removed. I still felt very weak however my blood count had returned to normal and disease had dissipated. During those few weeks I probably lost five of six KG in weight and it was a month before my strength fully returned.

With my charming nurses on discharge day. I could walk but I wasn't allowed to until I was outside.

With my charming nurses on discharge day. I could walk but I wasn't allowed to until I was outside.

As a legacy of this incident, there remains a slight patch of oedema which is where I presume the mosquito bit me.

Travel safe my friend and note that there are three strains of dengue. Infection with one provides immunity to that specific strain, nut not the others.  It is said the contracting another strain of dengue results in more severe symptoms and a greater likelihood of death.

Footnotes:

While the Philippines is considered by many to be 'third world', the facilities and services in Dagupan hospital were better than my own country of New Zealand.
The treatment and hospital stay cost near to NZ$3000.00
On admission, an orderly tried to run off with my shoes - I  was very alert and prevented this.
A private room took  an hour to arrange and treatment proceeded almost immediately.
The staff all expected gratuities.
On check out, I was given a full copy of all my files.

Learn more about dengue

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