Saturday, July 31, 2010

Dengue diaries

“Dengue diaries”

Sun.Star Davao, July 31, 2010

Like a thief in the night, mosquitoes that transmit dengue abound in the city this rainy season causing alarm and concern among many Dabawenyo parents.

As defined by the Department of Health, “Dengue hemorrhagic fever is an acute infectious disease manifested initially with fever. Aedes aegypti, the transmitter of the disease, is a day-biting mosquito which lays eggs in clear and stagnant water found in flower vases, cans, rain barrels, old rubber tires, etc. The adult mosquitoes rest in dark places of the house”.

Signs and symptoms of dengue may include sudden onset of high fever which may last 2 to 7 days; joint and muscle pain and pain behind the eyes; weakness; skin rashes; nose bleeding when fever starts to subside; abdominal pain; vomiting of coffee-colored matter and dark-colored stools”.

According to city health officer Dr. Josephine Villafuerte in a Sun.Star Davao report last July 23, 2010, “there has been a record of 2,782 cases of dengue from the city’s 12 districts and hospitals from January to July 2010 based on the weekly report of the City Epidemic Surveillance Unit of the City Health Office”.

Dr. Villafuerte stated that these cases were not only from the city but also from outside who were admitted to the hospitals here. Dengue-related deaths have totalled to 23.

As parents, what can we do when dengue strikes in the family? Let’s read and learn from the personal accounts of three parents whose precious children suffered and survived the dreaded virus:

STANLEY TAN and son Xavier

When was your child affected with dengue fever?
“My son Xavier Daniel (Grade 2 student) was diagnosed with dengue sometime July last year”.

What were the symptoms you observed?

“Non-stop high fever, no appetite, didn’t like to drink water and always seemed to be tired”.

Can you share to us your dengue experience/ordeal?
“My son suffered from dengue about 12-15 days. At Day 1, when he went home from school, we immediately rushed him to the hospital to rule out, of all things, dengue. The blood test yielded a very high platelet count, so we actually ruled out dengue.

The week before, he also had high fever for 5 days but was not diagnosed as dengue. It was just an ordinary viral flu.

So, this time, coupled with the good blood test, dengue was not considered.

Five days passed and he still did not recover. So, we went back to the hospital and after a test and a re-test, dengue was confirmed”.

How did you treat your child’s dengue fever?

Xavier was confined for 1 week, 3 days of which were at the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). He has to be confined there because he was very frail and hardly moving, had nose bleeding and vomited blood.

There, his platelet count test was taken every 3 hours and the drop count from his I.V. or dextrose was increased. His platelet count steadily dropped from 250 to 60 on the 3rd day in the NICU.

We tried all remedies from tawa-tawa juice, camote tops juice and durian. All of these were ineffective since the doctor advised us not to give them to him since he is asthmatic and allergic to a lot of things. Against the doctor’s orders, we still tried to give these to him but he refused to take them because of the taste.

We also tried Pedialyte and Gatorade and several fruit juices.

My wife and I were very desperate then that I tearfully called everybody I know to pray for his recovery.

Our pastor and friends from church visited and one even brought along a letter of recommendation to the Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC) to give us priority on whatever blood we need, since our church conducted bloodletting and donated blood to them.

Our doctor told us that if his platelet count reached 30, we will need to have a blood transfusion. Fortunately, the drop stopped at 60 and we never got to the point of looking for blood anymore.

I remembered he took and drank papaya juice nectar which I bought from the supermarket when his platelet went up that started his recovery.

After 2 more days in the hospital but out of the NICU, he was discharged”.

What are the important lessons you learned from the experience?

“Never underestimate dengue. Do not be complacent if your child has fever. Take precautions, because after all, prevention is better than cure. I pray that nobody will experience what we had to go through”.

What is your advice for parents in dealing with dengue?

“Apart from early detection, my advice for parents is not to panic. God is with us through all these trials.

As I’ve said, we would have been prepared if we would need blood because of the blood donations by our fellow church members to the PNRC. Had there been no blood donations, we would find it hard to look for the blood plasma that was needed”.

FELY ATEGA and daughter Tifany Jan

When was your child affected with dengue fever?

“My daughter, Tifany Jan (U.P. Mindanao college student), was affected with dengue on May 22, 2010”.

What were the symptoms you observed?
“Tifany lost her appetite 3 days before the fever and got teary eyes, then frequent urinating and on and off fever.”

Can you share to us your dengue experience/ordeal?

“She was confined at San Pedro Hospital immediately after the CBC, platelet count and urinalysis came out, her platelet count was still 139. Bacteria were found in her urine.

She refused to eat or drink as she complained that her taste bud had changed.

In just 2-4 days of confinement, her platelet count had dropped from 139 to 120, 99, 60, 41, 20 then 11 that required her to be transfused with 6 bags of platelet concentrate.

My daughter had experienced internal bleeding and enlargement of the liver. Whenever she ate, she vomited. Her skin color changed from fair to dark, especially the face and lips which continued to dry.

I refused transfusion at first because I want my daughter to overcome dengue in a natural way. But, seeing my daughter in the critical stage, I had to choose between principle and life of my daughter”.

How did you treat your child’s dengue fever?

“Hospitalization was so important for my daughter as she took less food intake and fluid (dextrose) was one remedy the doctor could give, monitoring of the platelet counts 
heartbeats and fever”.

What are the important lessons you learned from the experience?

“It was indeed traumatic. If only I could kill all mosquitoes then I'll do it!
The lessons I have learned from that experience was I shouldn't have allowed my daughter to stay for 2 weeks in Catalunan Pequeno when there was a dengue case in the area.
Too much outdoor activities this time must be minimized especially in the morning until early afternoon when dengue mosquitoes are active.
The experience of my daughter helped me to be more ready emotionally whenever she complains of pain especially during transfusion. It made me aware that dengue is a reality and deadly and we need to do something about it”.
What is your advice for parents in dealing with dengue?

“I encourage parents to donate blood. My daughter was given the priority of platelet concentrate by PNRC because I am a blood donor myself. I donated 5 times already for others in need of blood”.
REMILY SABIHON and son Elian

When was your child affected with dengue fever?

“Elian, my youngest child who is in Grade 1, was diagnosed with dengue fever last May 2010”.

What were the symptoms you observed?

“There was onset of low-grade fever accompanied by headache, nausea and vomiting on the first day. The following days, I observed intermittent low and high grade fever up to 39C with periods of afebrile or having no fever, and nose bleeding which happened within 48 hours from the start of fever.

The nose bleeding prompted me to bring my son to the San Pedro Hospital’s emergency room. CBC and UA were taken and all results were within normal range and clear, respectively. I was advised to have Elian take another CBC test if fever still persisted the next day”.

Can you share to us your dengue experience/ordeal?

“When someone in the family starts having fever these days, it may be a case of dengue fever as the number of cases is increasing and, has caused fatalities. On Day 1 of Elian’s fever, I was already looking out for symptoms of dengue.

I brought my son back to the hospital for another CBC test on the third day of fever. I proceeded to confine him in the hospital when the result showed a drop in the platelet count. It was difficult whenever Elian was subjected to the finger pricking about 3 times a day that was necessary to monitor his platelet.

I also felt moments of queasiness from anticipating the blood test results that only prayers were able to ease. I was thankful to God that Elian’s platelet did not drop below 100 and at the sign of an increase in platelet, he was given a discharge order.”

How did you treat your child’s dengue fever?

“For home medication, I tried paracetamol for fever and lots of fluid like water and juice. I also let him drink Bios Dynamis’ tawa tawa tea. Hospital treatment included I.V. (intravenous) hydration, monitoring of platelet, urine and fluid intake.

I continued to give him drinks of tawa-tawa tea, though its therapeutic properties have not been established.

During the third day of his hospitalization, Elian complained of severe itchiness due to rashes, also associated with dengue fever, and was prescribed to take antihistamine for relief. The rash may be described as just slight discoloration of his skin, particularly in the lower limbs, but there was no swelling or bumps”.

What are the important lessons you learned from the experience?

In addition to regular house cleaning and good health habits, an important measure to prevent dengue striking any family member is to make sure that there is no exposed stagnant water collected in saucers, water/air cooler drip catchers, bottles, jars or pitchers around the home where virus-carrying mosquitoes may breed. Water containers like drums should always be covered.

However, there are also many environmental elements in the places we go to and in our immediate neighborhood that may be beyond our control.

Applying a mosquito repellent like Human Heart Nature’s citronella bug spray will help ward off potentially harmful bites”.

What is your advice for parents in dealing with dengue?

“It is best to seek medical attention when fever lasts for more than two days for early diagnosis in case of dengue fever to avoid complications and possible blood transfusions.

Also, as there is a rise in the number of dengue cases in our city, if you are of good health, please consider going for a blood screening at PNRC or a bloodletting project and if you are eligible, take up this worthwhile cause and donate blood. Donating blood not only benefits the recipient but also gives health improvement to the donor”.

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