He was bleeding from his skin - Mom feared for son’s life after he contracted dengue

October 16, 2019

The female Aedes aegypti mosquito.
The female Aedes aegypti mosquito.

A Kingston mother, Kamla Forbes, told THE STAR that her three children had to be hospitalised because of dengue fever.

Her eldest son had the more serious dengue haemorrhagic fever.

"Well all my children were actually diagnosed in quick succession. Two were admitted simultaneously to the University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI). As they were discharged, their older brother was admitted. I was especially terrified for my oldest child (age 17) who has asthma. He actually had haemorrhagic dengue. His platelet count became dangerously low. It went down to I think 15,000 and they said if it went to 10,000 he would've needed a blood transfusion. He had bleeding from the skin, nose bleeds ... I stayed with him all the time, until them run mi off the ward. But the nurses were very understanding," she said.

During a sitting of the House of Representatives at Gordon House last Tuesday, Health Minister Dr Christopher Tufton revealed that between January 1 and September 30, some 5,909 suspected, probable, and confirmed cases of dengue were recorded across the island. There were 135 suspected and confirmed dengue-related deaths over the same period.

Forty-seven cases of death were reported in 2018, while 88 persons have died so far in 2019. Ten of the deaths occurred last month.

Forbes believes that healthcare workers are not sensitised enough about dengue.

She believes many doctors are still prescribing medication that should not be used for dengue.

Downplay dengue's impact

"The Government is treating it like an epidemic. When my children had it and I notified the ministry, they told me that dengue was endemic. They are trying to downplay dengue's impact on the population. There needs to be better coordination between government agencies to tackle it," she said.

However, a university student who also had dengue, thinks enough is being done to make citizens aware of the health hazards associated with dengue.

"I see charts at the hospital and I see where schools are creating awareness by educating students. So, I believe the health sector is trying. It's just that persons refuse to seek medical assistance because it initially presents itself as flu," she said, indicating that she was also fooled by the symptoms. "Initially, it started out as a sore throat and over time, it developed into flu-like symptoms. I had fever, headache, coughing and then chills. But then I started to have diarrhoea and that is when I knew something was wrong. It felt like death. I was weak, I could barely open my eyes, my entire body was in pain. I didn't even want to eat."

She said that she went to the hospital and did a blood test where dengue was confirmed and she received treatment.

"When they told me I was scared, knowing that dengue had killed people before. I was at Andrews Memorial Hospital and stayed there for only a few hours. When they told me, I wanted to know where I picked it up, but I was aware that it was going around at school," she said.

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