Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Dengue Drama

We had a dengue scare this week. A nasty mosquito borne virus. We got back from our wk/end away with our daughter suffering from a fever, a headache and an 'eye headache' as she called it. Dengue has a few classic symptoms such as headache, sore or headachey eyes and a rash appearing on about day 3, all with a high fever. Our daughter had a headache for 2 days and a very high fever. We waited anxiously for a day 3 rash to appear. Her next symptom was a stiff neck. Oh no. Now another horrible virus to worry about, though at least with this one I know about folding the child up to get them to touch their chin on their chest. And I know you don't dance and sing with Meningitis..... No rash was forthcoming and by the morning of the third day her fever had gone down. She bounced into our room in the morning. full of beans, accompanied by more singing, and new dance moves. And I marvelled again enviously, but with relief, at how incredibly quickly children bounce back from illness.

You have to have a blood test to confirm dengue. You also have to be hospitalised to keep a careful watch on your platelets as dengue, for some reason, causes a drastic drop in your platelet levels. A friend was in hospital with Dengue a week ago. Her platelets went down to 50, 000 (normally around 250-400, 000) If it gets really bad they transfuse you. They also put you on a drip and test your blood twice a day. The scenario made me feel weak, as I contemplated battling my daughter in hospital, yet again (with paediatrically unsympathetic nurses), until her platelets went up again, and as they tried to extract blood from her, and inflicting yet another week in hospital on her three year old life.

This friend, who was in hospital with dengue, had got it for the second time. It suddenly brings it to the fore again. You get blase about it, as months go by and you evade it. Suddenly we were all putting insect repellent on everyday again. Not that it works. My daughter comes home from nursery covered in bites every day and I apply repellent to her religiously every morning.

Anyway this friend was told rather unhelpfully by another 'friend' on hearing her news, "You can't get dengue twice, you die!" This would have reduced me to a neurotic wreck, and in fact we have heard of several locals who have died from it. But my friend, a survivor of Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma, and an amazing and joyful woman, said matter of factly, "Well, I'm still walking around and so is my husband, 4 yrs after having it twice". And then calmly explained that there are about 7 strains of dengue. It's dangerous when you get the SAME strain twice. Don't know why. Still sounds a bit of a lottery. And then there's Dengue Haemorraghic Fever, much rarer (in the lottery stakes) but 50% fatal. Ho hum.


Self employed mum said...

OMG spiders and dengue I think I would be hot footing it out of Sri Lanka. Avon skin so soft body oil is superb for keeping the 'midges' and insects away, it's a great repellent, it's the only thing that works in Scotland. Perhaps you don't have a local Avon rep. LOL. Don't know if it works on mosquito's.

Anonymous said...

i got dengue and my symptons were very mild fever and NO rash i did suffer headaches and body aches and no appetite.
apparently you can not get the same dengue twice but you can get a differtent kind and some people i know suffered 2 of dengue
good that your girl did not get it, but according to newspapers ??? dengue has gone down 50% with last year same time

Paradise Lost In Translation said...

Ah! My evidence was just anecdotal. One friend I know had dengue with no fever at all (she didn't get a fever with typhoid either....) Another friend had dengue in Cambodia and had a fever for THREE WEEKS! It was his 2nd time and it took him much longer to recover as is the case with my friend mentioned in the post. All my medical books say a rash around day 3 is v common. But I know that symptoms and severity vary a lot. That's great you heard occurrence has reduced. Do you mean it's gone down by 50% in Sri Lanka, because I have read that worldwide it's increasing exponentially. Colombo is supposed to have some sort of eradication programme that mainly involves free spraying/smoking of gardens in the central municipality I think. I don't know what it i sabout normal dengue that can kill you but we do know of 3 locals since being here who have died from the normal dengue. I find it a bit worrying for my children because it does seem such an 'unknown quantity' as we put it. Thanks for your comment!

Anonymous said...

Hi it's been three months after my incident after visiting China and Taiwan in June 2011. Must have had denque hemorragic fever but did not have the rash. I had the same symptoms but our doctors could not find out the name of the exact virus. After searching in the internet I have come to the conclusion that it is this virus and I am very much worried about my next visit to the same area. In any case I read somewhere that I need to be covered (The less of skin to be exposed) and to use spray to send mosquitos away to avoid second bite. Any suggestions? thanks Angela