A Case of Dengue in the Family

With the onset of the rainy season, Dengue outbreaks have been reported on the radio several times already. And I believe this year had the most number of reported Dengue cases thus far.

In our own subdivision, defogging operations have already been started. Well, the irony of it is that on the same week of defogging, my youngest daughter Sandra fell ill to Dengue. And yes, it's the first case of Dengue in our family.

How did we know?

A Few Symptoms of Dengue

It took some time to tell because the most visible telltale sign like the rashes weren't there. It was too early.

Sandra had a fever on a Friday at school and so we took her home upon the school's advise. After taking paracetamol, she started feeling fine.

By night though, her fever rose to 40 degrees Celsius and we were very worried. Saturday, July 24, we we took her to the doctor and the doctor just suggested paracetamol and gave a request for CBC (Complete Blood Count) just in case the high fever persists.

The high fever did persist and on Monday, she felt very weak and dizzy. The most she was complaining about was severe body pains, especially in the joints. Dengue is also known as the Bonecrusher Disease or Breakbone Fever because of the body pain symptoms.

We took her back to the hospital for Complete Blood Count (CBC Test). Her results were on the low normal reading for platelets.

By Tuesday, another Complete Blood Count was taken and this time the blood platelet count decreased beyond normal. It wasn't a huge sudden drop though. The normal platelet range is 142,000 to 424,000.

Hers was 122,000. On the same night, she was admitted to the Alabang Medical Clinic in Alabang (not Muntinlupa, where we had the check-ups).

No more Fever

Usually, when someone is sick and has a fever, we worry. And when the fever disappears, we usually breathe a sigh of relief.

With Dengue though, the disappearance of fever IS part of the symptoms. In Sandra's case, it was when her fever disappeared that her blood platelet count started to dip.

So, for Dengue, "no more fever" does NOT mean "no more worries".

Because she's not been eating, she was given dextrose and sodium chloride. Blood transfusions were not required though.

I think transfusions are only given when the blood platelet count reaches below 20,000. Tita Gay and DH took turns looking after her at the hospital while I was on the homefront. By Wednesday night, her situation started to improve.

No Vaccine for Dengue

I don't know where Sandra was bitten by the mosquito. It could have been anywhere - in school or in our subdivision - anywhere. After learning how our house is much cooler without window screens, we decided not to have them installed.

Curiously, it's only in our bedroom where mosquitoes love to go. Maybe it's the location of the bedroom or maybe the carbon dioxide that DH and I release in our breaths and bodies.

So what I do is put up a mosquito net to repel mosquitoes - just in our bedroom. I do this every night especially during the rainy season.

The Aedes Aegypti mosquitoes, however, are DAY-biting mosquitoes. Supposedly, they're actively biting during the hours 4pm to 7pm.

As of this writing, no vaccine has been successfully developed for Dengue. So efforts were trained on how to prevent these Aedes Aegypti mosquitos from spreading the virus.

It is interesting to note that in Australia and Vietnam, there have been successful efforts especially in the rural communities to eradicate the Aedes Aegypti with the help of a small crustacean called Mesocyclops.

Apparently, this bug which lives in the water eats the larvae of the mosquito thus controlling the mosquito population effectively.

Shown below is a magnified view of the crustacean Mesocyclops.

Frankly, this concept is entirely new to me. Living in a Dengue-prone country, I've never heard, read nor seen this mention anywhere in the local news. Yeah, maybe I just missed it.

I thought this idea was ingenious (and cheap!) until I read that presently, this is effective only in the rural communites of Vietnam where there are many bodies of water and rather hard to implement in urbanized areas.

Visit to the Hospital

Anyway, back to the Dengue case story. Renz and I visited Sandra on Thursday afternoon, July 29. She was a bit spritely and chatty.

Here, Sandra's resting while DH and Renz pose by the ward's window.

Renz brought his school books to the hospital to do some assignments. Here, he has an Eureka moment.

Breaktime! Renz attacks the hospital food while Tita Gay observes amusingly. Sandra's content with a banana.

Fortunately, on the same day that Renz and I visited (July 29), the doctor gave her the release order.

Here's the summary of the blood platelet count and hematocrit progressions:
Blood Platelet Normal Range: 142,000 to 421,000
Hematocrit Normal Range: 0.37 to 0.47

Blood Platelet Count
26 July 2010
27 July 2010
28 July 2010
29 July 2010

We're rather thankful for Philhealth Insurance (Philippine Health Insurance) because of the big help in reducing our hospital bill. Of course, her staying in the ward (but with the same doctor care) helped reduce the costs.

For her 2 1/2 days stay, we only paid Php 890. It would've cost up to Php 4,000 without Philhealth.

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