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The nasty virus that is dengue fever is spread by the aedes mosquito, those big white and black ones which you may see, and unfortunately Koh Phangan and the rest of Thailand falls into one of the areas where this mosquito is present.
You will of been warned of mosquitos before you come here and you don’t want to get sick whilst you’re enjoying our tropical piece of paradise so firstly the best thing to do, as with any problem is prevention. We will come back on how to prevent dengue fever but firstly we speak to Dr Pat from Bandon Hospital;
‘The symptoms of dengue fever are a high fever for three days at least, any less than this and it can be a common cold. There are no specific signs or symptoms but they do include muscle and joint pain, pain in the bones, loss of appetite, fatigue, nausea and skin rash’.
Things you can do for Prevention
Wear a mosquito repellent at all times.
Sleep in an airconditioned room or under a mosquito net and remove any still water sources from the area (jugs or containers with still water) as this is where those little biters lay their eggs.
Wear long sleeves or light trousers to prevent bites if you can.
‘Use protection spray on the island, we have a lot forest here so if you’re in a bungalow in the jungle or visiting a waterfall use spray every time. At the moment it is rainy season so there are a lot more mosquitoes around.
Dengue is spread by a certain type of mosquito called ‘Aedes’ which are most active during the morning for a few hours after sunrise and also late afternoon so be extra careful around these times. It is spread by a mozzie biting a human with dengue, contracting it and then biting another human which it infects.
It is not spread from human to human.
Dr Pat, what is the process at hospital for Dengue fever?
If you have a fever then we check the blood, the technician will run the blood through a machine and then we will know if it’s dengue.
We can check for dengue on the first day of a fever but sometimes it is not dengue so it’s recommended to check after three days. The test is called NS1Ag and is 90 to 95% accurate at testing for dengue.
Then what is the treatment?
There is no specific treatment as such because of the nature of the disease. You have a fever for three to five days and when the fever has gone down you have the shock state so your body’s blood pressure will go down and in the worst cases this is the time when someone can die from the shock.
We treat it symptomatically, we treat the headaches, nausea, diarrhea, stomach pains or whatever they have so we treat their symptoms. There is no vaccine so we have to look at the individual as each patient has different symptoms
Can people stay at home or should they be in hospital?
We have two different treatments, if you know basic first aid or have a person at home that can do it then we can treat them as an out patient and give them the medicine to take home but if not and they’re sick then we suggest they stay as an in patient.
We use an Indicator of if they can eat or do normal activities then they can stay home but if they can’t do daily tasks then they should stay in hospital.
How worried should people be about dengue when visiting Koh Phangan?
If you get a high fever and it doesn't subside then come to hospital. Thailand is the most common place to get dengue as it’s a tropical country and you can get it mostly everywhere even in cities.
Keep hydrated! Dengue can cause vomiting and diarrhea which means dehydration so keep sipping on water constantly.
Many people herald papaya leaves and the leaf juice as an aid for getting rid of dengue, we will not stop you trying this but there is no scientific proof yet that it actually works.
One thing to note is that there is no cure as of yet for dengue fever so this is why it is so important to keep an eye on your symptoms or more importantly take steps to prevent catching the dengue virus.
Symptoms can take up to two weeks to show and can last from three to ten days and can get more severe, hopefully you will have seeked medical care by this time.
Maximum risk is on the third or seventh day of symptoms and dengue mosquitos are usually around from August to October and they cannot survive in lower temperatures.
The last thing we want is for any of you lovely lot to get ill, you’re here to have the time of your life so take some steps to prevent these mozzies biting you and look after each other!