Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Dengue or chikungunya?

aedes aegypti, the primary vector for dengue (from internet)
Head pounding, excruciating joint pain, high fever and chills. Both are symptoms of either dengue or chikungunya and both are viral infections transmitted by the Aedes mosquito.

Of the two, dengue can be more treacherous and even fatal. According to a WHO impact report, the incidence of dengue in the last 50 years, has increased 30-fold.  The report stated "An estimated 2.5 billion people live in over 100 endemic countries and areas where dengue viruses can be transmitted. Up to 50 million infections occur annually with 500,000 cases of dengue hemorrhagic fever and 22,000 deaths mainly among children."

my bedside companion  
In the Philippines, the Department of Health reported 44,207 cases with 193 fatalities from January to June this year, a 1% decline compared to 51,597 cases last year. The number of cases though is still considerable compared to elsewhere in Asia where dengue outbreaks were reported.  Wall Street Journal cited 14,363 cases logged in Singapore with 5 fatalities; Today indicated 21,453 cases in Malaysia with 45 fatalities; and, Thomson Reuters Foundation reported more than 136,000 cases in Thailand, the largest concentration were in Bangkok and Chang Mai, with 126 fatalities.

As for me, I really have no idea where I got bitten. The incubation period of dengue takes 4 to 10 days and symptoms develop 3 to 14 days after.  It was Dra. Rosete, our office clinic doctor who warned me to go to the hospital right away if my fever doesn't subside and to have my blood tested for both dengue and chikungunya.
friends cheered me up (photo from Lilo Gutierrez)

So the very next day, on October 19, shivering and feverish, I went to St. Luke's pathology department for a
complete blood count and to test for Dengue NS1. The initial finding for Dengue NS1 Antigen was negative. Seeing that my platelet count was relatively low at 170,000 (the normal count is 150,000  to 400,000) and my fever was 40.9, the doctor recommended that I be confined in the hospital for further observation.

For three days, my fever was hovering between 40.1 to 40.9 and my platelet count was steadily dropping. When the fever broke, rashes appeared and the platelet count started declining rapidly to 99,000... up to 46,400. That's when my attending physician, Dr. Popeye, confirmed it was dengue. I was on standby for blood transfusion in case my platelet count dropped to 10,000.

this made my day
Dr. Popeye said that there is no specific medication for dengue. He advised to just sit it out by taking lots of fluids and resting. I was on round the clock intravenous fluid and twice a day blood tests. I took the 'lots of fluids' to heart and drank lots of fresh coconut water and tawa tawa tea, a herbal medicinal herb that is growing in popularity for its reputed anti-viral properties and aids in hydration.

Warning to all, the Aedes mosquitoes are out there and prevalent throughout the day when the sun is out. This is contrary to hearsay, that they are out during twilight hours - this is, dawn or dusk. Believe me, dengue is truly debilitating. I was confined in the hospital for a week and it took me more than two weeks to recover.

Here are three tips to avoid dengue -  (1) Use insect repellent regularly  I actually prefer using citronella, a natural insect repellent than those containing DEET and other chemicals.  If I venture to unusual places, I put the insect repellant stickers on my clothing for added protection; (2) Get rid of all water-holding containers in your home, patio, garage and garden including your pet's water bowl. That's where the mosquitoes lay their eggs; and (3) Strengthen your immune system by eating well, logging 7 to 8 hours of sleep, exercising and drinking lots of water. According to the doctor, my immune system must have been compromised and thus, vulnerable to dengue.

1 comment:

Meikah YbaƱez-Delid said...

Oh my! Thank God, you're OK now. I also had fever during those times...and I was scared I might have those dreaded disease. Turned out just fatigue. Take care! :)