Dengue Fever… we’ve been in places before with dengue fever, mainly Mexico. And I’ve even known a few cruisers who have contracted Dengue. I hear it’s not fun. They also call it the “Bone Break Fever” because it feels like your bones are breaking.
There’s a recent outbreak of it here in Majuro. It’s carried by mosquitoes and there’s no cure or vaccine for it. You basically have to tough it out. I don’t normally get worried about things like this because truth be known, there are worse things around here like TB and HIV. But the government here is making a big deal about it and the CDC has some folks here as well trying to identify which type of dengue it is. There have been 154 cases confirmed as of this week, with 41 people hospitalized. It appears that the numbers are hitting a plateau and the cases are getting milder though.
Symptoms are high fever, headache, joint aches, skin rash, vomiting and, in severe cases bleeding from the nose or gums. The stores are all out of Tylenol, mosquito repellant and coils and anything else remotely related to dengue. Luckily, we stocked up on bug repellant in Mexico (and it’s the industrial strength kind…no FDA there) and we’re covering ourselves head to toe every time we go out. And I have enough Tylenol on board to probably support a small village outbreak.
It’s always a little unnerving though to go into a country, especially the lower income ones, and see what kind of health problems we have to worry about. Cruisers are a funny lot too. You’ll get some that totally ignore all warnings in an effort to appear less like a tourist (despite the fact that the locals are worried too) and then you get some who will change their plans altogether to avoid a place with problems (although I can see how you would end up sailing around in circles out here if you took that approach). We like to think we’re middle of the road – cautious without panic. Use your common sense, I always say.
The one good thing that’s coming of this is that Majuro is getting a major clean up (a much needed one too). Evidently the best method of prevention is cleaning up. They’re getting rid of all the places where mosquitoes can breed (or at least attempting to get rid of it) and cleaning up all of the trash around town. Getting rid of standing water may prove to be difficult as it rains here all the time (we’re right in the middle of rainy season). But they’re giving it their best efforts. Maybe by the time this is all over, the result will be a nicer place to live and visit.