Reassuringly the peak dengue infection period is coming to an end in Thailand.
Also in an extremely encouraging development the first dengue vaccine has arrived in Indonesia, bringing hopes of preventing one of the most challenging diseases in the tropics. The vaccine, named Dengxavia, is a result of 20 years of research by Sanofi Pasteur, the world’s largest vaccine producer.
“The World Health Organization has endorsed the vaccine, saying that it represents a major step in controlling the disease as there is no established cure for dengue fever currently, which can cause severe nausea, bone pain, headaches, rashes, bleeding and even death.”
The number of dengue fever and dengue hemorrhagic fever cases in Thailand since the beginning of the year through the end of September totals 46,344 people covering all 77 provinces, according to the Thai Bureau of Epidemiology.
I’ve met many expats who have had the disease once or in some cases twice, which can be more dangerous. Fever and a rapidly failing platelet count are the initial signs doctors look for ( I have been wrongly diagnosed with dengue in Thailand after contracting another of the over one hundred diseases that mosquitoes carry). There are several strains of dengue and if you get one strain, your immune response to the second strain can cause potentially life threatening complications.
It’s important to seek medical advice quickly if you suspect dengue and make sure you drink plenty of fluids. Remember that less than 1% of cases are fatal. (In depth advice from Bumrungrad International Hospital printed below article.)
Earlier in the year we reported the death of Funeral of Por Sahawong. Khun Por (35 years of age) was a son of Buriram and became a national superstar but never forgot his roots. The City with much dignity and respect for the family took care of organising the proceedings. Khun Por battled against a sudden illness having being hospitalised for some months with dengue fever.
It is good to know that Thailand is one of the countries that has now approved the vaccine. Lets hope it goes on to be a great success in helping prevent this nasty and potentially deadly virus.
Advice From Bumrungrad Hospital on Dengue Fever
Symptoms: Once a person is bitten by a virus-carrying mosquito, symptoms only appear after an incubation period of three to 15 days (5 to 8 days in most cases). Dengue fever’s most common symptoms include:
Sudden chills and pain around the eyes;
High fever, up to 104° F / 40° C;
Headaches, muscle pain and neck pain;
Unexplained lethargy, loss of appetite;
Nausea, vomiting and/or diarrhea;
Skin rash that usual starts around the abdomen and upper torso.
The high fever and other symptoms usually persist for two to four days and are followed by a rapid drop in temperature and profuse sweating. Next, a temporary respite usually lasting about a day brings a feeling of well-being as body temperature returns to normal. That’s followed by a second round of fast-rising fever accompanied by a rash which spreads from the extremities until it covers the full body except the face. Some patients suffer swelling and redness on the palms and soles of their feet.
Treating dengue: There is no specific treatment for dengue fever, but it’s important to see your doctor if you develop dengue-like symptoms. In mild cases, doctors usually recommend patients drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration, take Tylenol or acetaminophen to relieve pain and reduce fever, and be sure to get plenty of rest.
More severe dengue cases require hospital admission. Patients usually undergo intravenous (IV) fluid and electrolyte replacement, blood pressure monitoring, and in some cases patients may require transfusions to replace lost blood.
Less than 1% of dengue cases are fatal. The acute phase of the illness marked by fever and muscle pain lasts about one to two weeks. Patients usually feel quite weak, and full recovery can take several weeks.
Prevention tips: Since the virus is transmitted mosquito-to-human, prevention entails both controlling and eradicating mosquitoes and taking action to protect oneself from being bitten.It’s important to empty standing water from places mosquitoes breed such as discarded old tires, trash cans and flower pots.
Wearing long pants and long-sleeve shirts helps guard against mosquito bites, and consider using a mosquito repellant containing DEET when visiting places where dengue is endemic. Avoid areas with standing water and stay indoors in the morning until two hours after sunrise and at sunset to further reduce your risk of being bitten. To learn more, log on to www.cdc.gov/dengue/