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My dengue experience (spoiler: it sucks)

Started by Cas, April 22, 2020, 10:54:16 PM

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I was thinking that, after going through something that's much more heard of than experienced, maybe some of you might be curious about what it is like and what one learns about it as it progresses, so probably sharing this is the most useful thing I can get from this illness.

For those of you who haven't heard about dengue fever, it's a viral disease that's spread via a mosquito called Aedes Aegypti, the same mosquito that spreads zika, chikunguña and most famously, yellow fever. None of these diseases is a walk in the park (although walking at night in the park here can be quite dangerous). Dengue is arguably the most widespread of all these. The mosquito gets no harm from carrying the virus and it can't pass directly from person to person. TV and radio constantly warn about dengue especially during the summer, but until very recently, I had never known any case personally.

The last years, we've seen tons of these mosquitoes every summer. In spite of our efforts, it's super hard to escape them. Aedes Aegypti (from Latin "aedes", meaning "annoying" and "aegypti" coming from Greek and meaning "from Egypt"), the annoying Egyptian mosquito defends its name very well. It is active at all times of the day, very stubborn. Comes in swarms sometimes and doesn't mind a clap from time to time. It's fearless. It's rather small so you may not even feel its bite, but it's a noisy flyer that makes it very difficult to sleep. When you look at it up close, you notice its like a "zebra", with its black and white stripes, not just on the legs, but also in different parts of the body. We've got used to ignore them because it's so hard to fight them. And that's a big problem.

So this year, suddenly, we start getting trucks that pass by fumigating and a campaign sending people to enter homes and fumigate inside too. I should have turned on my alarms by that time, but all this coronavirus issue kept me distracted. Later, I heard my cousin had caught dengue and with him, his parents, at the same home. Again, I should've strengthen my strategies by then. One day, my brother falls ill with a high fever. He has a tendency to get high fever so I didn't make the connection. A doctor came and misdiagnosed him first, thinking he had plaques. Later on, as he wasn't recovering, another doctor came and recommended that he were taken to the hospital to check for either coronavirus or dengue. And there you're: he was diagnosed with dengue and sent back home to recover. When he was starting to feel better, one night, I suddenly felt some discomfort, I took my thermometer and measured my temperature: 37,5. An hour later, 38,5. Half an hour later, bed and shivers.

I knew it was the same thing. The fever would stay up at around 39 to 39,5 all the time unless I had 1 g paracetamol which was the only thing I could take and wasn't super effective either. Other stuff, like ibuprofen or aspirin can't be taken because dengue drops your platelets to the ground and you can easily get internal hemorrhage (bleeding), which is what makes dengue dangerous. I learnt that every year, many people, most notably children, die from this crap. As the illness progresses, your body weakens and you start to experience nausea and may vomit, you lose your appetite, laying on bed becomes super uncomfortable and in some cases, quite painful. Later, you get a burning on your skin, especially on your hands and feet that's very itchy, your fingers and toes swell and your extremities get red and with a rash. After my third visit to the hospital to control my platelets, I was told I would have to stay in because doctors feared I could develop internal bleeding. That didn't get to happen, but my nose was completely filled with little wounds from any contact with my handkerchief to wipe it and then, those little wounds would be uncomfortable and I tended to touch my nose outside, which made things worse. I had nose bleeding once. I was laying on my back and started to feel blood running down my throat, so I sat up and all blood came out. It was very disgusting, but fortunately, the wound was just in my nose.

Back at home, I have been able to get over the fever and no longer have digestive discomfort, but I do sleep very badly and even today, I feel pretty dizzy. I am kind of angry at dengue because now my body is en-guarde for this dengue type. There are four. If you later on catch a different type, you're very likely to develop severe dengue.

In short, dengue is not like a flu or a digestive intoxication. This is a serious disease that we have to try hard to avoid. This kills people and mosquitoes look so small and so common that you don't get the feeling of how dangerous they are. Some illnesses in the world get a lot of attention, such as HIV/AIDS, even though they are much easier to control, since prevention is very straightforward. Dengue has been largely ignored for a long time and only now is being taken more seriously and it's super hard to do anything to prevent getting infected. Many people catch dengue during a trip. That must be terrible!  So beware, guys. If you have the mosquito over there, avoid it at all costs and if you ever travel (whenever this thing ends), check whether there's dengue in the place you're going to visit and be very careful. Take care!
Earth is my country. Science is my religion.


Quote from: Cas on April 22, 2020, 10:54:16 PM
So beware, guys. If you have the mosquito over there, avoid it at all costs and if you ever travel (whenever this thing ends), check whether there's dengue in the place you're going to visit and be very careful. Take care!

And crucially, if Aedes aegypti exists where you live, don't leave exposed stagnant water in your house, as that provides breeding grounds for the mosquitoes.

I have managed to evade dengue thus far, but summer outbreaks are common here. Glad to know you're getting better!