Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Dengue Fever Outbreak

There is a severe outbreak of Dengue fever in Africa.

You may be sitting there thinking, "So what? How does that affect me?" Hopefully it doesn't, but thanks to air travel and the number of people who travel to/from the continent, it can easily become endemic or pandemic. Dengue fever is a terrible disease and once one gets it, that's it - the fever can recur over and over. The initial incubation period can be as long as two weeks or as short as 72 hours. Then it is a burning high fever, febrile hallucinations, dehydration, violent shaking, muscle/joint pain, skin rash... it's a wonderfully heart disease and makes malaria look like a piker. Dengue can also be a hemorrhagic disease in some rare cases - bbbrrrrr...

Some of the worst fevers and diseases come out of Africa and South America, owing to the temperature and favourable conditions in the jungle areas. Dengue fever is just one, and usually it is known in South America more than Africa (and these are enormous continents with a lot more jungle zones than northern continents). But look at some of the doozies that come out of these areas - Ebola virus, which is one of many hemorrhagic fevers known and by far one of the most virulent, killing diseases known to mankind. Others include Lassa, Marburg, Argentinian, Bolivian and Brazilian fevers.

Hemorrhagic fevers come on fast and furious and as with all viruses, there is no "cure", all you can do is stay hydrated and stay away from others to avoid secondary infections (with influenza strains, especially, the virus itself won't kill, but become infected with a secondary infection will kill the patient). However, the mortality rate for Ebola is incredibly high and takes just seconds of airbourne contact to go from host to new victim. Hemorrhagic fevers are notable because death from bleeding out is the most common problem. The flu does not do that.

The diseases are from zoonosis (it works with animals and can be transmitted to people from the host animal). There is no way to know if the animal is a carrier unless the blood is tested. The animal may only carry the virus, but people inevitably get it.

The outbreaks have mostly been confined to those continents, but modern travel makes it too easy to bring it anywhere. There are some things you just don't want to pick up - especially if you can't put it down!

1 comment:

Blogger said...

Discover how to book free flights with Travel Hacking.