Dengue is not the threat

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My brother was studying so hard for his exams doing all-nighters when he contracted fever.

“It’s exam week, I ain’t abstaining from class!” he said.

Subsequent fevers and two complete blood counts later (with normal platelet ranges but with a decreasing trend) he was admitted. Two days later he was discharged and back to doing overnight studying, possibly getting another headache sooner or later, this time due to complaints of missed school work.

He had dengue fever.

My cousin had similar symptoms. Thing is, their family weren’t really as well versed about it. They relied on herbal alternatives, probiotic drinks and everything in between.

Three days later my cousin’s brother also started having the same symptoms. Dengue mosquitos have this incredible talent of transferring the virus from an infected to a healthy person through biting. And that can be concluded on what transcribed here, so that’s when they decided to go to the hospital. They were confined just a bit longer than my brother but ultimately discharged.

They also had dengue fever — with just a relatively bigger hospital bill.

Somewhere there’s a kid who has similar symptoms, with a family fearful of the hospital with all the news they’re hearing. They might also have relied on alternative medications which they thought were working as the fever subsided.   Fact is, it is the disease’s nature of being biphasic, that is it disappears and then returns.

Given the presumed notion that their child’s back to normal, they breathed a sigh of relief. A day later the fever comes back with their child looking pale and weak. They continue their alternative medications, even opting for antibiotics (never do this by the way, dengue is a virus, not a bacteria and antibiotic abuse only contributes to a deteriorating body and antibiotic resistance). They only decide to go to the hospital when their child does not have the energy to eat or even drink – ultimately the child dies.

From the same dengue fever.

Dengue isn’t supposed to be a threat. With adequate treatment, dengue’s mortality rate is less than 1% (3). But if you look at the current numbers, just in our country alone, 720 people already died this year. That’s from all reported cases from January to August. (1)

Dengue’s mortality rate increases with conditions such as delayed treatment. It reaches a staggering 20-25%.

Dengue has no cure, but is also not the cause of death. It’s misleading to say one dies from dengue, when one actually dies from severe dehydration or fluid overload, in which the body would not be able to compensate anymore even with fluid replacement.  It’s also why the main treatment of dengue is on alleviating the symptoms of fever and fluid loss while the body replaces our platelets naturally and our immune system fights the viral infection.

There are pros and cons now that there is a declared national health emergency because of dengue. Pro: People are now talking about it more. Con: People are dying.

And that’s not really a good balance. While we have a lot of resources to know about dengue and other diseases in the tips of our fingers, there’s also a lot of wrong information scattering about — another general con in the information age.

That’s the thing about evidence; it’s incomplete, gets questioned and gets replaced by better evidence, making the old one obsolete, but not entirely wrong. For some who only rely on faith, they take this old evidence as a betrayal of trust, thus spiraling them into a long dissonance of fear and suspicion with the rest of the information that comes around.

That’s how we get antivaxxers, conspiracy theorists, doctor-shamers, antibiotic abusers, disbelief in science, and other extremists — so on and so forth. But the mistake does not only come from those who don’t know, but those who know. There’s a reason why health care professionals call empathy their artistry. The field trains us that our privilege also gives us the obligation to teach those who don’t understand their predicament in a way that they would get it, and we often fail to do so.

We judge the uneducated with rolling eyeballs when they talk about not taking the appropriate meds or take alternatives.

Yes, it’s true that it is still the individual’s responsibility nevertheless, and it’s not entirely the professional’s fault. Yet it’s the healthcare professional’s duty to deal with it, and leaving it like that or approaching it with a superiority complex will only end up contributing to the ever-growing calamity that is disbelief in evidence.

As always, the best thing you can do is prevention.

As much as possible clean your backyards and houses. Throw away stagnating water. Stay hydrated, stop going out naked (very important) and when symptoms such as fever, body pains, and headache occur, don’t wait for it to get worse before consulting your doctor.

Dengue is never a threat; our mindsets about it are.

And false mindsets often lead to buried bodies.

These simple instructions matter but it also is a huge deal to get educated on Dengue and Dengue Fever, you may read more about it on the DOH website.

Sources: Department of Health website, Relief Web website

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