by Bernie Lopez
As seen on the September 2019 issue of The Philippines Sentinel
There is an ongoing Dengue epidemic in the Eastern Visayas, with 8,600 dead as of August 3, according to news reports. A state of emergency has been declared. The epidemic is especially concentrated in major cities like Tacloban, Iloilo, and Bacolod. Contact your relatives in these areas and send them this primer in the absence of proper information.
This primer offers simple emergency remedies. To prevent the spread, use coconut oil rubbed on the skin as a good dengue mosquito repellant. Children are prone to be more seriously affected by dengue. This mosquito bites during the day, especially near creeks and ponds with stagnant water. Tell your children to avoid these areas.
Dengue haemorrhagic fever (DHF) is a viral infection which lowers blood platelets. Internal bleeding may occur towards the latter stage when fever fully subsides.
There is no cure, but its effects can be lessened or prevented. The body’s immunity system is the best way to fight dengue. So nutritious food, vitamins, rest and sleep are important. However, food and drinks with a red color is discouraged as it may result in reddish urine, and mistaken as a dengue symptom.
Early detection is critical. If you are late in detecting it for a few days, it may be too late to prevent the severe effects. Early symptoms include high fever (40 Celsius/104 Fahrenheit), headache, pain behind the eyes, muscle and joint pains, nausea, vomiting, swollen neck glands or skin rash. Symptoms last for 2 to 7 days after incubation of 4 to 10 days after one is bitten by the dengue mosquito. In some cases, there are no symptoms or they appear late.
If a child is suspected to have dengue, go to a hospital right away for a blood test. Emergency home detection may be critical even before going to a hospital. This involves a tight tourniquet in the upper arm. Get a handkerchief, tie around the arm, twist with a pencil to tighten. Small red dots appear near the tourniquet after a few minutes if one is infected. This may not work in the early stages of incubation-infection. If positive in the blood test at the hospital, find out the platelet count and monitor it regularly. It must not reach the low dangerous level.
When infection has been verified by a blood test, the important first step is to avoid dehydration because this helps lower the already low blood platelets. There are solutions for oral rehydration such as Oresol powder, available in drugstores, dissolved in water to be drunk the whole day.
Tea from tawa-tawa leaves, also known as gatas-gatas (Euphorbia Hirta) is also good, if you can find it. Ask your local herbalists. It may be available in some SM stores. It grows wild in many areas, but make sure you identify it properly. It is anti-diuretic, which helps retain water and prevents dehydration. It is also known to increase blood platelets.
A person infected with dengue is better isolated from other members of the family only because, if there are Aedes aegypti mosquitoes around which carry the virus, they can bite infected persons and pass the virus to other persons they bite.