Don’t get caught out Dengue Fever is a serious disease that can make you feel terrible for weeks, take precautions to avoid getting bitten by mosquitos when travelling.
I have to admit that as I regularly travel I like to make sure my inoculations for diseases that are prevalent in the country I am travelling to are up-to-date, although I decided against anti-malaria drugs due to the side effects and likelihood of getting the disease whilst in Jamaica. I am also aware of the risks to health in Jamaica and even wrote a post about it, but although I do sleep under a mosquito net I don’t regularly spray myself with mosquito repellant, until now…
Dengue Fever is alive and well in Jamaica current as of October 2012, although the worst recorded epidemic was in 2010, there have been many cases recorded in the local press including 5 reported deaths. A close friend of mine was diagnosed with Dengue Fever last week and I can tell you it is painful and not at all pretty to watch someone with the virus trying to fight it off.
How You Can Prevent the Spread of Dengue Fever:
- Spray yourself and your children with mosquito spray containing DEET, or wear clothing to cover the body.
- Cover windows and doors with a mesh to prevent mosquitos from entering your premises, as the mosquitos that carry the virus feed mainly in the daytime.
- Empty or pierce all containers and vessels that contain stagnant water to limit the breeding grounds for mosquitos.
- Sleep under a mosquito net.
Dengue Fever Symptoms
- Headache in the front forehead area
- Pain behind the eyes
- Hard to keep eyes open
- No appetite
- Back Ache
- Whole body aches
- Want to sleep
- High fever
- Feel the need to vomit
- Stomach Ache, cannot pass bowels
- Extreme cases: Nose Bleeds, or blood from other orifices GO TO HOSPITAL IMMEDIATELY
Treatment for Dengue Fever
- Panadol, or Paracetamol based products ONLY
- DO NOT TAKE IBUPROFEN based products as it can cause the patient to bleed
- Keep cool with wet flannel / rag
- Drink fluids
- Bed rest with mosquito net cover
One evening my friend first complained of a headache in the front forehead area and pain behind the eyes, making the eyes feel weak and which even after taking pain killers would not subside. After lying down for about 45 minutes they were encouraged to drink some peppermint tea and eat something as it may ease the headache, but they had no appetite and barely ate a few mouthfuls of food before saying their whole body ached and they wanted to sleep. A few hours later they woke up and had the onset of a high fever, a terrible headache and felt like they wanted to vomit, which again painkillers would not ease.
In the morning as they seemed worse with a very high fever, headache, could barely open their eyes, feeling weak and aching all over, so they were taken to a medical centre and paid $2,500 to see a Doctor, which consisted of a visual check over, blood pressure test, taking of body temperature and a pin prick finger blood test. They were then advised it was possible that Dengue Fever was the reason for the illness and that the test to confirm would be an extra $3,700 which included a blood platelet count test. After waiting about 30 minutes it was confirmed that they had Dengue Fever and was advised as there was no ‘cure’ or anti-viral treatment and that the body generally fights it off within a week to 10 days, although it can take up to a month to feel better. I hurried to the pharmacy and additionally bought mosquito spray and destroyer (mosquito coils) as the only advice was to get a prescription for Panadol which could be taken 2 tablets 3 times a day, to get bed rest for 2 weeks and drink plenty of fluids, oh, and if they had blood coming out of their facial orifices to go to the hospital immediately…..
As soon as we got back we searched the Internet for information as the last piece of advice really scared us, where we found out there were 3 different types of Dengue Fever and you could tell it was getting worse if they started loosing blood from the nose, gums etc as it was the blood capillaries bursting. We also found out that it is spread by the female Aedes aegypti mosquito which feeds mainly in the daytime and is attracted to lay her eggs in stagnant water, which contains dead leaves and plant matter. So that meant if another mosquito bit them whilst they had Dengue Fever, which then bit anyone else it would be passed on and the 2nd person and they too would have Dengue Fever, or worse still if they were bitten by another mosquito which carried Dengue Fever they could develop a worser strain of the virus.
Shortly after they were put to rest under a mosquito net, kept cool by constantly replacing cold wet rags placed over the head, back of neck or chest and encouraged to drink water at least once an hour, even if it meant they had to be woken up to be made to drink. They drank a little fish tea (soup) and went back to bed. The second day was fretful as they kept waking up in pain, coughing and feeling like they wanted to vomit, burning hot like you could fry and egg on their skin and generally in a bad way with a stomach ache. After asking for some oats to drink (oats, water, vanilla essence and nutmeg) around midnight they laid down and almost immediately went to the bathroom to vomit, whereby they said it eased off the stomach ache a little. Afterwards they laid back down and slept restlessly.
This morning they looked a little better and after being bathed in cold water and given pain killers they rested again and felt well enough to eat a little rice and peas and fish and the fever seemed to ease. After going back to sleep again and waking up in pain with high fever, they were put in a bath of cold water to lie down for a while which again eased the fever. The pain in their back was really bad which we felt was caused by lying down for so long so we tried a back massage which relived it a little, but there was nothing we could do to stop the stomach ache including drinking milky drinks such as Lasco and Nutriment to try and get the bowels working. Another fretful night followed with high fever and stomach and back pain which seemed to get worse.
After staying up late and looking on the Internet the worry set in as it mentioned that if the patient develops more symptoms such as stomach ache it could be due to a worser strain of Dengue Fever and they should be taken to the hospital. So we decided it was best to get a further check so they were bathed in cool water again and dosed in DEET Mosquito Spray. We packed a bag in case they had to stay overnight before making the 15 minute journey to St.Ann Bay Hospital. Although we arrived at about 9.30am the hospital was packed full of people, including many children with their parents. There seemed to be a high level of people with suspected Dengue Fever and we waited to see the staff at the Information desk first where they listened to your symptoms, took your temperature and blood pressure and gave you a document to take to registrations. After queuing again at registrations they gave you your medical records (if you had been to the hospital before) and you then had to take them back to Information desk where you put them at the bottom of the pile of records to wait for your name to be called. Whilst waiting they went to the toilet and at last they had a bowel movement!
We waited for about 1 1/2 hours before about 10 people’s name were called and we were all ushered into another seating area in a corridor to wait to be seen by the doctor. After another wait of about 1 1/2 hours they were seen by the doctor were a blood sample was taken and a rather large injection of penicillin was received in the batty cheek (bottom) which proceeded to give them a new source of pain in the way of a dead leg! We were told to expect a 3 hour wait for the blood test and they were given 2 glasses of electrode salts to drink to prevent dehydration and to replace natural bodily salts lost through sweating and fever.
We decided to wait outside and after waiting about 3 1/2 hours with no news we went inside to find out what was happening. It actually took nearly 6 hours to be seen by the doctor again to get the results….. it appeared that we had not heard when they called our friends name and if we had not persisted to get seen by the doctor again we would have probably been waiting all night! Needless to say we were told to go home and continue with the same care and return on Tuesday to have another blood test to check the platelet count.
The night followed with fever and back pain and a somewhat restless night, so the cold rags (flannels) were used to keep them cool.
Day Five and Six…
Although they feel a little better than before and the fever isn’t so high they still look sick and get tired easily, their appetite hasn’t increased much and they prefer to lie down rather than sit for long periods of time. They are having regular bowel movements and sometimes cough until they nearly vomit. Tomorrow we go back to the St.Ann Bay Hospital for the 2nd Blood Tests at the Lab…..
What is being done by the Government of Jamaica?
Associated Press has put out an article about Dengue Fever which was based on a conversation with Jamaica’s Health Minister Fenton Ferguson. The article claims that fumigation trucks have been dispatched to try and control the spread of the epidemic across the island and school children are being encouraged to disperse stagnant water in small vessels and containers. The story was took up by businessweek….
Jamaica is stepping up mosquito eradication across the island and urging school children to stamp out breeding grounds to combat an epidemic of dengue fever, the Caribbean country’s health minister said Thursday.
Health Minister Fenton Ferguson told reporters there have been five suspected deaths from the mosquito-borne virus in Jamaica so far this year. Only one has been confirmed with an autopsy.
There have been more than 1,200 suspected cases as of Sept. 29, compared to 887 during the same period last year. About half the cases have occurred in the southern capital of Kingston. However, this year’s cases are far less than in 2010, an outbreak year.
Officials have dispatched fumigation trucks to spray roughly 450 neighborhoods and teams are clearing storm drains that are clogged with debris. Thousands of premises have been inspected, Fenton said….
The full article can be read at: http://www.businessweek.com/ap/2012-10-12/jamaica-steps-up-efforts-to-combat-dengue-fever
This information about Dengue Fever which is specific to Jamaica is from the NaTHNaC Website:
Dengue is a systemic viral disease.
- Epidemiology – Dengue is known or has the potential to occur in this country.
- Exposure – Dengue is transmitted via the bite of an infected Aedes aegypti mosquito. Aedes aegypti mosquitoes feed predominantly during daylight hours and are most abundant in urban or peri-urban settings. All travellers to dengue areas are at risk.
- Travellers should take mosquito bite avoidance measures. Aedes mosquitoes feed predominantly during daylight hours.
- There is no vaccination or medication to prevent dengue.
- A previous dengue illness with one of the four dengue virus serotypes does not confer immunity to other virus serotypes.
- Infection with a second dengue serotype may be a risk factor for the development of dengue haemorrhagic fever.
The Full information about Health Risks is Jamaica can be found at https://www.nathnac.org/ds/c_pages/country_page_jm.htm