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Aug 8, 2019

Healthy Living: How Serious is Dengue? What You Should Know

Even though there has hardly been as much rain as we’d see in the annual rainy season; there is currently an outbreak of dengue in Belize. For anyone who has contracted the mosquito-borne illness, they’d know that dengue, or break bone fever as it is commonly called, can be painful. While dengue is a common disease to us in Belize, it can also be life-threatening. As the number of cases continues to rise across the country, we find out more about the potentially lethal complications of dengue in tonight’s Healthy Living.

 

Marleni Cuellar, Reporting

It starts with a bite by the now infamous Aides Egypti mosquito. One in every four persons who are infected with dengue will begin to experience symptoms within a few days after being bitten.  A sudden high fever, pain in the bone or joints are just a few signs of the first phase of the infection. As the Medical Coordinator for Matron Robert’s, Doctor Karl Jones, explains the infection has three phases.

 

Karl Jones

Dr. Karl Jones, Medical Coordinator, Matron Roberts Polyclinic

“You have the febrile phase which is characterized by the fever and all the break bones feeling that we associate with the headache the backache the joint pains the fever the rash and so on. It usually lasts somewhere around three days. The following three days of illness roughly are what we call the critical phase. That’s the phase when people may get certain complications of dengue. That’s when there are signs that have to be looked out for which are the warning signs and those are things like repetitive vomiting, intense abdominal pain, bleeding from the gums, in the urine, vaginal bleeding people may become lethargic so they will get dizzy and be on the verge of losing consciousness.”

 

The third and final phase would be the recovery phase when the symptoms begin to subside. The second phase though is the riskiest as this is when some patients may develop what is now referred to as severe dengue.

 

Dr. Karl Jones

“There has been a shift in the way how dengue has been classified. Before you use to speak of classic dengue and hemorrhagic dengue; the dengue that doesn’t bleed and the dengue that bleeds. Nowadays, it’s different because severe complications of dengue aren’t necessarily bleeding complications. You may have people going into shock as a result of no bleeding but they are severely ill.”

 

According to the Center for Disease Control one in twenty people who get sick with dengue will develop severe dengue. This type of dengue can lead to shock, internal bleeding and even death. There are some key populations who are more prone to developing severe dengue.

 

Dr. Karl Jones

“Classically people who’ve had dengue before but we also speak of people who are in the extremes of life. The elderly the very young — children you see under the age of one or so. They really have to be paid keen attention to and the elderly.”

 

People with diabetes high blood pressure, heart or lung problems, obese persons and pregnant women are also high risk. But anyone can develop severe dengue; this is why health officials are urging Belizeans who suspect they have dengue to visit their nearest medical facility.

 

Dr. Karl Jones

“As soon as you have symptoms that you believe tone dengue and you that may actually believe to be a flu you should come and get seen. That way you can be evaluated and the doctor can say ok you look sleek someone who we need to keep a closer eye on. You may need to come back tomorrow or forty-eight hrs or so. We may need to run labs on your right now or in twenty-four hours or so. As soon as you start to experience those signs and symptoms you should come in.”

 

Recognizing that there are some who often choose to self medicate at home. Doctor Jones warned that some medications may do more harm than good.

 

Dr. Karl Jones

“If you do choose to stay at home and take medication on your own for symptoms that you think are those of dengue you should limit your medications to Tylenol which is the same as saying paracetamol or acetaminophen. That’s all you should take. You should not be taking any ibuprofen or naproxen or diclofenac because those can complicate or those can complicate or lead to bleeding in patients who have dengue. That said, you should still come to clinic and get your attention because we would be able to guide you properly of other things such as your hydration which is of key importance in patients who have dengue and we would be able to advise you on what warning signs to look for as your condition progresses.”

 

What about prevention? That message has not changed.

 

Dr. Karl Jones

“As the slogan goes “noh get bite;” that’s the main thing. We have to do the ground work in our yards in our neighborhoods.   Clean up your yards eliminate anything that has standing water. Try to ensure that your drains are flowing and if you do develop signs of dengue you must certainly seek early medical attention.”


Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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