Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Dengue Fever!

For the last few weeks, there has been an epidemic of dengue in Paraguay. For those unfamiliar with this disease, it is spread by mosquitoes and is accompanied with high fevers, headache, rash, joint and muscle pain, and with some strands, hemorrhaging, especially in the gums. It can be life-threatening, especially if you've already had dengue before.

There has been a lot of rain lately in Paraguay, which helps the mosquito population. Once a mosquito has bitten an affected person, they can spread the disease by biting another person, and thus, an epidemic has spread. Last week, soldiers and health officials started house searches, looking for stagnant water in some of the neighborhoods with the highest number of cases. Families are liberally spraying their students with Off! before coming to school, and local pharmacies are selling bracelets that have citronella to ward off the insects. At the local park where I run after school, there have been ladies offering to spray patrons with Off! before they enter.

I had one student who had it at the beginning of March and now, many people are afraid that they have it when they exhibit any of the symptoms. My Spanish teacher, Maria Elena, has been telling me that on all the Paraguayan TV stations there have been commercials educating people on dengue prevention. Hopefully, Jesse and I can escape this year without any severe illnesses.

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