Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Arthur and Phyllis Had Dengue Fever

Robyn, an MCC co-worker, got sick first, then I, Phyllis, got a fever later that same day. At first I thought I was a bit of hypochondriac. You know, the power of suggestion -- just feeling sick because Robyn was sick. But after a few hours of denial, I checked my temperature and sure enough I had a fever. I did a few last things and then went to bed. Arthur got sick 2 days later.

We all stayed at our house. The first 2 days were the worst in terms of fever, aches and pains. Then the pain and fever left but tiredness and weakness continued for over a week after that. There were points were we’d feel better and do something like take a shower or warm up some soup and then after all that activity, we’d feel very tired and have to rest for a few hours. In all, we were sick 11 days and are only slowly getting our energy back.

Our team was great. People brought us coconuts, DVDs, books, soups, juices and other symbols of support.

Here’s some information about dengue. This comes from the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases (USA). There are more severe cases of dengue, with hemorrhaging and shock, but we didn’t get that kind so I’m leaving it out. Apparently dengue belongs to the same family of diseases as the West Nile Virus.

Dengue fever is an infectious disease carried by mosquitoes and caused by any of four related dengue viruses. This disease used to be called "break-bone" fever because it sometimes causes severe joint and muscle pain that feels like bones are breaking, hence the name. Health experts have known about dengue fever for more than 200 years.
Dengue fever is found mostly during and shortly after the rainy season in tropical and subtropical areas of

  • Africa
  • Southeast Asia and China
  • India
  • Middle East
  • Caribbean and Central and South America
  • Australia and the South and Central Pacific

Dengue fever can be caused by any one of four types of dengue virus: DEN-1, DEN-2, DEN-3, and DEN-4. You can be infected by at least two, if not all four types at different times during your lifetime, but only once by the same type.

You can get dengue virus infections from the bite of an infected Aedes mosquito. Mosquitoes become infected when they bite infected humans, and later transmit infection to other people they bite. Two main species of mosquito, Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus, have been responsible for all cases of dengue. Dengue is not contagious from person to person.

Symptoms of typical uncomplicated (classic) dengue usually start with fever within 5 to 6 days after you have been bitten by an infected mosquito and include

  • High fever, up to 105 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Severe headache
  • Retro-orbital (behind the eye) pain
  • Severe joint and muscle pain
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Rash

The rash may appear over most of your body 3 to 4 days after the fever begins. You may get a second rash later in the disease.

There is no specific treatment for classic dengue fever, and like most people you will recover completely within 2 weeks. To help with recovery, health care experts recommend

  • Getting plenty of bed rest
  • Drinking lots of fluids
  • Taking medicine to reduce fever