ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Dengue Fever Christmas: A Virus as a Present

Updated on June 22, 2013
Dengue fever incidence in North and South America in 2006.
Dengue fever incidence in North and South America in 2006. | Source

Dengue Fever Takes the Boredom Out of Christmas

In early December, I had just got over a garden-variety of flu and was starting to feel better. Then, about a week later, something else hit me that made my bones, head and eyes ache profoundly. My eyes were very sensitive to light, I had no energy and I was struggling to breathe (I have asthma).

People who have had experience with dengue fever can usually recognize someone who has it. There is a look in the eyes that is characteristic, and when they learn of the symptoms that the sufferer feels, as mentioned above, it is highly likely that they have been bitten by the daylight-flying mosquito that transmits dengue fever (usually Aedes aegypti). Two people in my family have had it before. One has had it twice.

The most frightening thing about this disease is that your blood platelet counts drop dramatically, which can cause all kinds of health complications, like internal hemorrhaging. Without platelets, your blood vessels can spontaneously lose blood, especially in your gut region. And if you have heart problems, it can exacerbate that as well. Luckily, I don't. But the asthma condition can also cause complications due to autoimmunity. The dengue virus causes one's immune system to attack and destroy the platelets. It also affects the production of platelets which are essential for blood clotting.

The Mosquito That Transmits Dengue Fever

Aedes aegypti from a 1905 drawing.  One of the principle vectors of the dengue virus.  It also transmits yellow fever in some regions.
Aedes aegypti from a 1905 drawing. One of the principle vectors of the dengue virus. It also transmits yellow fever in some regions. | Source

A Great Video on How Infection Occurs

Dengue Fever Treatment

So, if your platelets are falling, what do you do? It seems in Costa Rica, the idea is to drink lots of water and eat - even if you find eating disagreeable. For me, the disease made all food unappealing and tasteless - and perhaps that was the reason that my platelets began to dip down below the 100,000 mark, at which they have to hospitalize patients. So if you you have this, I would advise you to eat as a forced discipline. Your body needs energy and protein to make platelets.

I was put on a drip of dextrose and various salts to provide a constant amount of moisture and some energy as well. I was also stuck daily for a blood sample. Other than that, they gave me a large dose of acetominophen, an antihistamine and lots of water to drink.

My platelets bottomed out at 48,000 and stayed there for a couple of days before it started going back up. Eating the hospital food was difficult, as the gallo pinto was tasteless and all of the other food was poorly spiced. I also developed a strong distaste for maracuya (passion) fruit drink, since it was served more than twice per day. And for lunch and dinner, there was a chicken broth which tasted like the wringings from a used dish rag with overtones of onion.

After 5 days and nights, the day after Christmas, I was discharged from the hospital. I was still tired, but was feeling much better. My platlet counts had reached 104,000. My birthday is on the 26th, so this was one birthday present for which I was extremely grateful.

The stem cells that ultimately make platelets come from the bone marrow.  Destruction of the platelets is thought to be due to the virus's association with them and triggering the host's immune system to destroy its own platelets.
The stem cells that ultimately make platelets come from the bone marrow. Destruction of the platelets is thought to be due to the virus's association with them and triggering the host's immune system to destroy its own platelets.

Food Cures for Dengue

Its seems that everyone I met during my experience with dengue had a suggestion as to what would help me recover. For instance, I drank copious quantities of Welches grape juice during the period right before my hospitalization. Enough to turn purple. But when I got to the hospital, they told me that clear juices were better. Seafood soup was also a suggestion that I was given later.

Other cures that are found on the internet are papaya leaf extract, camote (yam) tops, some extract from the heart of a coconut, etc.

However, after doing some research, it seems that all of the ideas on food cures are anecdotal and haven't been research scientifically.

What follows is a video on work that a U.S. Army unit is doing on developing a vaccine. It seems an uphill battle, as there are four different dengue virus strains and many do not develop an immune response to some of the developed vaccines.

Work on a Vaccine


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Randy M. profile imageAUTHOR

      Randy McLaughlin 

      6 years ago from Liberia, Costa Rica

      The authorities encourage people to clean up anything outdoors that can hold water - old tires, pots, cans, etc. But if there are standing puddles in an area, this can lead to an infestation. I don't think they look into proper drainage as much as they should here. The public authorities come to your house and the immediate neighbors and fog with insecticide, but that is usually 10-15 days after you get it and have made a trip to the hospital. So my strategy is to wear long pants and put on repellant, especially during the rainy season and a little past that. Right not it is dry, so the threat has diminished.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Randy, What an educational, informative, practical summary of experiences with contracting and surviving dengue fever! It's familiar to me from travel in Brazil and Mexico. It's amazing how much trouble a tiny mosquito with biting road rage can do. What is the natural control on such mosquitoes on Costa Rica?

      Thank you for sharing, and I'm happy to hear that you're recovered,


    • Randy M. profile imageAUTHOR

      Randy McLaughlin 

      7 years ago from Liberia, Costa Rica

      Thanks, case1worker. Dengue does seem to be limited to equatorial and lower temperature zones. One minus for living in a warmer climate. The pluses still win for me.

    • CASE1WORKER profile image


      7 years ago from UNITED KINGDOM

      So glad you are feeling better, it must have been very unpleasant- thank goodness we don't get it in the UK!


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)