Dengue Fever - Describe Your Experience

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Please describe your experience with dengue fever. What prevention steps did you take?

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What is dengue fever?

Dengue fever is a disease caused by a family of viruses that are transmitted by mosquitoes. It is an acute illness of sudden onset that usually follows a benign course with symptoms such as headache, fever, exhaustion, severe muscle and joint pain, swollen lymph nodes (lymphadenopathy), and rash. The presence of fever, itchy rash, and headache (the "dengue triad") is characteristic of dengue. Other signs of dengue fever include bleeding gums, severe pain behind the eyes, and red palms and soles.

Picture of Aedes albopictus mosquito
Picture of Aedes albopictus mosquito

Dengue (pronounced DENG-gay) can affect anyone but tends to be more severe in people with compromised immune systems. Because it is caused by one of five serotypes the dengue virus, it is possible to get dengue fever multiple times. However, an attack of dengue produces immunity for a lifetime to that particular viral serotype to which the patient was exposed.

Dengue goes by other names, including "breakbone fever" or "dandy fever." Victims of dengue often have contortions due to the intense joint, muscle, and bone pain, hence the name breakbone fever. Slaves in the West Indies who contracted dengue were said to have dandy fever because of their postures and gait.

Dengue hemorrhagic fever is a more severe form of the viral illness. Symptoms include headache, fever, rash, and evidence of hemorrhage in the body. Petechiae (small red spots or purple splotches or blisters under the skin), bleeding in the nose or gums, black stools, or easy bruising are all possible signs of hemorrhage. This form of dengue fever can be life-threatening and can progress to the most severe form of the illness, dengue shock syndrome.

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Comment from: Maria, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: January 20

I live in Jamaica and became ill on Christmas Eve. Although I had been feeling tired and a bit out of it, the symptoms set on very quickly. I started feeling shivery and an hour later I was in bed with high fever. I had drenching night sweats for several days and fever was spiking up and down, highest at 39.6 Celsius. I had pain all over but especially in the legs and had a severe headache continuously for several days. I also felt very weak. I was better on Monday and went to work but felt like a train wreck by evening. I woke up next morning covered with rash from neck to ankles (mainly on upper torso, where there had been a minor rash before). I went to the doctor and had blood tests done, which subsequently confirmed dengue. I was on sick leave for another week although not as ill as before, with only low grade fever, but itching was a new problem. I am still feeling tired but gradually recovering. One symptom was that I was extremely thirsty. I drank up to 5 liters of water on my worst days and still felt dehydrated. I took paracetamol and anti-histamine tablets while symptoms were active. The latter was prescribed. I will certainly be more careful about mosquito protection going forward, especially with Zika virus now appearing in the Caribbean. I had chikungunya in 2014.

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Comment from: wecelli, 45-54 Male (Patient) Published: January 20

First I felt a bit dizzy when I got dengue. Next day my joints were aching and I had a bit of a headache. Next day fever, chills, aches, worst headache ever! The same for 6 days, then today 1/18/2015, I have less pain, but I am exhausted. I tried papaya leaf juice, 2 tbsp. 3 times a day. I live on the Big Island where we have had an outbreak so no trouble getting the leaves. I really don't think it helped me, but may help others. Best was Motrin and lots of water and sleep. I have been sleeping 10 to 11 hours a night. Use mosquito repellent if dengue is in your area!

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