For the last two weeks I have been bedridden after contracting Dengue Fever, or as it is pronounced here – Dengoo. Or more simply known as, ‘The Fever’ (there can be only one).
Dengue Fever is an infectious tropical disease caused by the Dengue virus and transmitted by mosquitos. Dengue is related to some other charming tropical diseases including Yellow Fever virus, West Nile virus, Japanese encephalitis virus, Kyasanur forest disease virus and Omsk haemorrhagic fever virus. Just to make Dengue even more likeable it mutates, so there are four strains and currently no vaccine.
Sri Lanka, more specifically Colombo, is currently in the midst of a Dengue Fever onslaught with 14,000 cases reported this year including 42 fatalities (according to the local paper). The threat is so serious that there are teams of ‘Environmental Police’ patrolling the streets in intimidating fluoro green vests to ensure that people are not creating a breeding ground for mosquitos on their property, penalties include up to 6 months prison time.
Around lunchtime on Monday I began to feel unwell and thought I was coming down with a cold. Within six hours I had developed a fever, body aches and a splitting headache, little did I know that the Dengoo had begun. At this stage my tropical disease paranoia gene kicked into over drive and I became obsessed with googling symptoms in the hope of self-diagnosis – I either had Krones, Lupus or Dengue. The fever broke after 3 days and I started to feel better. But not for long, the old Dengoo sucker punch was about to hit. Dengue gives you about a 6 to 12 hour window of improved health before it floors you again with some pretty potent diarrhoea, an aesthetically displeasing itchy red measles-like body rash and a big case of self-pity. I paid a visit to the doctor (possibly the most expensive one in the entire subcontinent) to validate my online diagnosis (I am now a fully qualified MD with full honours from the University of Wikipedia) and the result of my blood tests confirmed that I had the Dengoo. Dengue Fever also has another trick up its sleeve in that it reduces your platelets, white blood cells and can damage your liver and kidneys which means that you have continual blood tests to make sure that it doesn’t escalate which could require blood transfusions and TLC at a hospital.
So after a 15 movie marathon including the entire 6 movies that are the Fast and The Furious franchise (Vin Diesel is such a dreamboat), 3 TV series (Is Homeland’s Brody good or bad?! I just don’t know!), and being a pin cushion for a few more days my blood is now finally back to normal and I’m human again. Given that I got knocked about a fair bit, I’m still on light duties as if you rush back to normalcy too soon you run the risk of getting chronic fatigue. Next week I will emerge out of my 3 week Dengue cocoon – a little poorer, a little weaker, covered in Aerogard, 8kg lighter but with the mosquito killing reflexes of Mr Miyagi.
I would also like to give a shout out to my carer who put up with all my whingeing, whining, appalling body odours and who braved monsoon storms to bring me enough DVDs to last an Armageddon and enough electrolytes to do the Tour de France 3 times over.