The dengue epidemic is taking its tolls in many tropical countries including Malaysia. The disease is transmitted by mosquitoes and according to The World Health Organization (WHO), there are over 2.5 million people worldwide who are at risk and millions are already infected annually. The majority, about ninety-five percent of those affected are children.
Realizing the danger, I would like to share my personal experience in dealing with the disease. It was an educational experience and an eye opener for me on the danger of the disease.
My wife took a trip to her home town in Pahang, Malaysia to visit her family. I did not join her as our children are still schooling. She came back on Friday and on Sunday she had a slight fever. We did not take is seriously, thinking that she may be exhausted from the trip. On Monday the fever was getting worst, the temperature was about 39 degrees C. We went to her doctor and requested for blood test. The doctor gave her the panadol to counter the fever. Panadol is an over the counter drug used as a pain reliever and fever reducer. In the afternoon, the doctor called to inform us that her blood platelets had dropped slightly below the normal range of 150 – 400. The reading was 146, a border line figure and it was not too low to be of concern.
So we continued with the panadol and the temperature seem to be stabilized. However it did not go off, so on Wednesday morning, we went to the doctor again and this time, the doctor recommended us to do the dengue test. In the afternoon around 3 pm, we received the bad news; she was confirmed to be infected by dengue. Her platelets count was 75, below the critical level of 100 and she has to be admitted to a hospital immediately.
At 6 pm on Wednesday she was admitted to one of the hospital in Kuala Lumpur. Surprisingly, there is no known medicine for dengue; the treatments were more like managing the symptoms. She was put on the drips, (IV therapy) and medicine to lower her fever. The blood sample was taken twice a day to check for the platelets counts. According to the doctor, there are two levels that we have to watch:
<ul> <li>Critical level of 100 platelets counts - the patient has to be admitted to a hospital for close monitoring.</li> <li>The danger mark of 20 - It was like a decision point, below 20, the blood transfusion has to be done to bring up the level.</li> </ul> The platelets count continued to drop. On the third day in the hospital, the count dropped to as low as 24. The nurses prepared her for the blood transfusion. Another transfusion point was fitted on her right arm as the left was already fitted with the drip. However she was lucky as the next test on Sunday morning, showed a reversal of the trend. Although the reading was low, at 25 count, it was a critical point as the drop had stopped and she was on her way to recovery. The platelets are important element of the blood. It is the part that causes clogging, without which, the patient will be more likely to experience internal bleeding. In some cases, the traces of blood will also appear underneath the skin. For the next three days, she was on the recovery path. She was discharged on Monday when the platelets count reached 137. <p>It was a learning experience. The fever symptoms should not be taken lightly when it exceeds three days. The panadol will lower the temperature, giving a false indication that the disease is cured. We were lucky, as we had insisted on the further tested to confirm the dengue treat.</p>