Anxiety as dengue fever symptoms mimic Covid

Tuesday, April 27th, 2021 00:00 | By
Patients wait to be served at Coast General Hospital. There is an outbreak of Dengue fever in the county. Photo/PD/ FILE

Mike Osweta, a second year student at a Mombasa-based college had just finished taking lunch with friends at an eatery in Tononoka estate when he started experiencing fever coupled by persistent headache. His body muscles and joints were twitching in agonising pain.

Although he initially downplayed the feeling as  “ordinary fatigue,” Osweta, 21,  recalls that later that evening, his situation grew from bad to worse. His temperatures had shot to 39. 2˚C.

“I was very afraid and I thought I might have contracted Covid-19 because the symptoms I was showing were similar to those of a confirmed Covid-19 case,” he says adding: “Shortly afterwards three other colleagues in our hostel also began experiencing the same symptoms. The worry was growing. I lost appetite and became weaker and weaker by the minute.”

He says he immediately hailed a taxi and  after a short while, he was in  a private hospital.

After several tests, he says, medics discovered that I was suffering from severe dengue fever. I was admitted for close monitoring and put on drugs to reduce ­the feve­r.

Advised to rest

Osweta was admitted at the facility for three days. Before his hospitalisation, Owen recalls he was having an on and off headache for the preceding months but his visits to several medical facilities in Mombasa bore no fruit as the problem was never detected then.

“Every time I visited the hospital, they suspected that I had malaria but on examination, they couldn’t trace it.

Eventually,  they concluded it was fatigue and recommended that I should take a rest…well I took a rest as advised by the doctor but after that, I finally went down with what would later be discovered to be dengue fever.”

He says while he was  in hospital, doctors told  him that the fever has no known cure and that they would only perform symptomatic treatment.

Having established that his case was severe, he says they also advised him to take dengue fever tests often.

 Osweta’s case clearly demonstrates a situation that a number of Mombasa residents have been grappling with besides Covid-19 for the past one month.

Last week, health officials in the  county confirmed there was dengue fever outbreak and directed all health officials to initiate “targeted preventive and control measures.”

A communique signed by County Director of Public Health Dr Salma Swaleh indicated that out of 47 random blood samples collected from patients suspected to be suffering from the fever, 26 tested positive representing 55 per cent positivity rate.

 The cases were distributed as follows: Kisauni (six), Changamwe and Jomvu (seven) each, Nyali (four) and Likoni (two).

However, the cases could be more because Mvita sub-county did not submit samples for testing and records from the health department indicate the sub-county has the highest burden of the viral disease as per previous trend and rapid diagnostic test (RdT) data.

Ongoing rains

“Repor­ts of increased cases of fever both in adults and children with negative blood slides for malaria were made in mid-March 2021. The random blood samples were collected from patients in different health facilities in five sub-counties between March 12 and April 7, and were submitted to Viral Heamorrhagic Fever (VHF) lab, in Kenya Medical Research Institute (Kemri), Nairobi,” stated Dr Swaleh.

She warned the cases  might increase due to the ongoing rains. 

“We, therefore, request all sub-counties to immediately prioritise, plan and initiate targeted preventive and control measures to reduce the burden of dengue and effectively stop transmission of any other mosquito related diseases including malaria…” stated the director.

County communications director Richard Chacha has asked those who exhibit symptoms of the disease to visit hospitals immediately.

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