What is Dengue Fever?
Dengue fever also known as breakbone fever, is mainly found in tropical areas of the world. The Dengue virus is spread by several species of genus Aedes mosquito more specifically the Ades aegypti . There are 4 types of the virus, where being infected by one type provides a lifelong immunity to that given type. However, it does not provide immunity to the other 4 types and a subsequent infection may lead to more sever complications such as dengue hemorrhagic fever where bleeding occurs and the body goes into shock. Credit: Center for Disease Control and Prevention
The symptoms of Dengue fever can often at times be mistaken for other viruses such as the flu as some of the milder symptoms are common. However, if you find yourself with these symptoms listed below in an area known to have the virus, it would be wise to seek medical assistance.
The Symptoms include:
- High fever
- Muscle pain
- Joint pain
- Low white blood cell count
- Loss of balance
The incubation period for the virus is in the range of 3 to 14 days. Generally, most people start to feel better after 3 to 5 days after the first signs of symptoms. Additionally, you are only contagious during the incubation period until the symptoms have diminished.
Personal Experience & Treatment
I was traveling in Thailand, Ko Samui when I experienced the symptoms of Dengue fever. About two weeks into my three week vacation, I started feeling ill. One night, we we're about to leave for dinner when I could barely leave the beach chair I was sitting in that afternoon. I stumbled my way back to my hotel room and fell asleep. I awoke early in the morning with a sore back, cold sweats, and a pounding headache. I immediately knew something was wrong and began searching the internet for answers. At first I thought I had contracted Malaria which later turned out to be false.
My symptoms throughout my Dengue experience:
- Cold sweats (chills, feeling of hot and cold)
- Muscle pain
- Loss of balance
- Taste of metal
- Loss of appetite
Once arriving at the Ko Samui hospital, I was taken into the emergency room where I was tested for the Dengue virus after the doctor diagnosed my symptoms. The doctor tested my blood and took a swab from my nostril. After the confirmation that I had contracted the Dengue virus I was placed in the hospital for 3 nights to receive treatment. The nurses had placed me on an IV to ensure I kept hydrated. I was given Tylenol and vitamins multiple times a day. The doctor tested my blood twice a day to monitor my white blood cell count to determine the severity of my illness. By day 3 my white blood cell count was on the rise and I was starting to feel better. By day 4 I was able to leave the hospital on my own and travel back home. For the next month I felt very tired and weak. Now after a year after being bit by that mosquito I feel completely normal and healthy.
Currently there is no vaccine to prevent the Dengue virus. The only way to ensure that you never contract the virus is by not being bit by an infected mosquito. Here are some ways to protect yourself:
- Educate yourself on the areas you are traveling too not just for Dengue fever but other diseases.
- Use mosquito repellents which have a high Deet concentration.
- Stay in a air-conditioned and screened room.
- Try to avoid being outside during dawn and dusk where mosquitoes tend to bit more often.
- Cover exposed skin by wearing light colored clothing.
Also, if you live in a Dengue fever area, destroying mosquito habitats such as cleaning stagnant water and high grassy areas may reduce the mosquito population.
If you have any questions on my experience feel free to leave me a comment!