When Tanesha* developed flu-like symptoms a week ago, she had no idea that she was afflicted with the same illness her daughter had just recovered from.
A few days earlier, her 11-year-old daughter had a very high fever, dry skin, headache, other flu-like symptoms, and severe joint pain. She had dengue. "At first, I was coughing and I thought it was the flu as coughing was not one of the symptoms." However, by the next day, she had severe headache, her skin was dry and the joint pains had developed.
The deadly virus that causes dengue is transmitted by the Aedes Aegypti mosquito and, so far, there has been more than 1,200 suspected cases in Jamaica, with over 200 confirmed as dengue. Other Caribbean islands have also reported cases and deaths such as Trinidad and Tobago, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Suriname and the Dominican Republic.
To date, there has been three reported cases of deaths in Jamaica with only one being confirmed. Death results from dengue haemorrhagic fever, which is the more severe form of the virus which develops if not treated.
Symptoms include headache, joint or bone pain, muscle pain, skin rash, nausea and pain behind the eyes. Though some of the above are similar to symptoms of the flu, the pain behind the eyes is one of the most distinguishing.
From Tanesha's experience, what stood out for her was the pain. "The pain was so severe," she told Flair noting that it was not anything like the flu. But with painkillers, fever reducers, a lot of liquid and rests, he was up and about in a few days.
As the rainy season approaches, the Ministry of Health has been advising the public of precautionary measures to take to help eliminate the spread and breeding of the mosquito that carries the virus. These include: punching holes in the bottom of tins before placing them in the garbage, covering trash containers to keep rainwater out, and properly covering drums, barrels, tanks, buckets and any other containers used to store water.
Names changed to protect identiy.