Wednesday 1 October 2014

My tropical nightmare

Irishwoman's Caribbean dream was ruined by mosquito-transmitted dengue fever, writes Maura McBride

The doctor said it was a case of strep throat. He assured Portmarnock native Aislinn Amory that with rest, fluids and antibiotics, she would be fine in no time. Instead, Aislinn (27), started to feel progressively worse and was eventually diagnosed with dengue fever, a virus spread by mosquitoes in tropical regions throughout the world.

"I didn't know what was wrong", says Aislinn. "I felt extremely weak and tired.

"The week before I was training for a half marathon and all of a sudden I barely had the energy to get out of bed in the morning. My whole body was aching from head to toe, it felt like I had been hit by a bus".

Frightened with this sudden change in her energy levels and state of health, Aislinn, an Autism Therapist, sought immediate medical care in her adopted home of Tortola, a 12-mile-long tropical island in the Caribbean.

"I went to the doctor as soon as I first started to feel sick and was surprised when he told me I was suffering from a bout of strep throat.

"My throat was sore but I had a few other symptoms like fatigue and a headache that were affecting me as well. I was prescribed a course of antibiotics and instead of feeling better after a few days of treatment I started to feel worse."

"At this point I decided to check in with my GP in Dublin. He has been my family doctor for years and I wanted to see if he had any advice as to why I was still feeling sick.

"He suggested that I go back to the doctor on the island and request a series of blood tests to see if there was more going on with my body than met the eye.

"I am so grateful that I followed his advice and went for blood tests because it was only after the results came in that I was diagnosed with dengue fever".

Dengue fever is a virus spread by mosquitoes in tropical regions of the world such as the Caribbean.

It causes flu-like symptoms, such as a high temperature, a headache behind the eyes, a rash, severe muscle and joint pain, loss of appetite, diarrhoea and extreme fatigue.

It is also referred to as 'breaking bone disease' because the muscle and joint pain is so severe.

"I really didn't feel well. Every part of my body was sore, even my bones, and I never experienced such debilitating fatigue before", says Aislinn.

"I am normally very healthy and energetic so it was a real shock to the system to feel this way. I had no idea what was wrong with me and I was so relieved to receive a diagnosis.

"I didn't want to have a tropical disease, but at least I knew why I was feeling the way I was".

Two months after being diagnosed with dengue fever, Aislinn is still suffering from symptoms of the tropical disease and her energy levels have not returned to normal.

"I was training every day with a friend and planned on completing my first 20k run in a few weeks. Comparing my life before dengue fever to what it is like now is like comparing day to night.

"My social life and exercise tolerance are borderline geriatric when my symptoms are acting up".

Irish Independent

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