The Deadly Monsoon Bite

My eyes closed partially. The heavy burden of sleep pushed the lids down. Yet I did not want to…. It was well past midnight. The sounds from the corridors were reduced to mere creaking sounds of doors and occasional footsteps of the duty nurse.

I sat holding her hand….Tiny little ones. I could not completely cup them in mine, for fear of hampering the fine needle that was placed into her for the intravenous fluid. I prayed silently wiping the occasional tear that fell from my eyes.  Just an hour back the nurse had reported, “She is iGm positive and her platelet count is pretty low….at 30,000.” I felt the blood drain from my body when I heard this. I was aware of what dengue fever was and the risks it came with when the platelet fell. There was just a month more for my daughter’s 7th birthday. And she couldn’t be lying on a hospital bed seriously unwell. And definitely not because of a mosquito!!!!!

When the fever had come a week back, her pediatrician diagnosed it as the regular viral that was doing the rounds during the monsoon. But soon, my little girl started having nausea and bouts of vomiting. Yet again her pediatrician failed to diagnose the deadly virus that she was infected with.  However call it motherly instincts or divine intervention, the evening before I decided to wheel her to the nearby hospital and insisted that they investigate further, if required admit her for the night. That night was one of the worst so far in my life. My daughter had collapsed. She was weak and ill. I waited 24hours patiently.

Come monsoons, and every year, hundreds of cases of dengue are reported across India. Dengue fever is transmitted by the bite of an Aedes mosquito infected with a dengue virus. The mosquito becomes infected when it bites a person with dengue virus in their blood. The major symptoms fever, headache, muscle and joint pain and a typical skin rash that occurs all over the body, similar to measles. In some cases, dengue may develop into a more life threatening form known as dengue hemorrhagic fever, which results in bleeding, decreased blood platelet count or thrombocytopenia, blood plasma leakage or the more fatal dengue shock syndrome, which causes dangerously low blood pressure. Currently, there are no known antiviral drugs or injections available for the cure of dengue. However, the disease can be treated with plenty of supportive care and treatment that would eventually help save the patient’s life.

India is not alone in suffering from dengue. Brazil, for example, endures high rates of infection, and the disease is a threat in much of the rest of South and South-East Asia. But the high and growing burden in India suggests a pressing need to improve its public health efforts. Our open drains that collect rainwater on streets serve as a perfect breeding ground for the larvae.

Lucky I was, my six year old recovered from dengue that day. The IV and support care by the medical team did wonders to her tiny frame. It could have been fatal, irreparable even if I had delayed getting her to the hospital by an hour.

As a young girl, years back, I would love the monsoons. I would listen to their pitter patter sound, watch the water lashing on the pavement and smell the wet mud. I would run out with my friends once the rain stopped, armed with paper boats. We would jump on puddles splashing water on each other. No longer would I be able to give my daughter a childhood such as this. I would think a hundred times before I could let my little one, float that paper boat in the tiny muddy stream by the roadside. I would hesitate to let her jump in puddles…

Small joys of monsoon robbed….

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