Malaria, Dengue, Zika.... I'm pretty sure you have heard about all this mosquito-borne diseases out there! And yes, it is not just a thing people use to scare you from traveling. It is actually quite common nowadays. I (Laura) can tell you from my own experience, I suffered from dengue fever already twice in 2 years. Pretty annoying, but I am the mosquitoes' favorite and always gets the most bites. Check the map below, it shows all the affected areas...pretty much seems like almost everywhere you wanna travel..
So, let me tell you how that happened. In 2012 I spent a semester abroad at the university of Singapore, and it was epic ;) Anyhow, when I came back home to Germany I got a complete check up just in case... you know, traveling around SEA for 5 month and getting bitten a lot. So, they docs told me I carry dengue anti viruses and I must have had it while abroad. Of course, I was sick 2 or 3 times within these 6 month, but nothing I could declare as dengue fever.. more like a cold. I guess, I was lucky at that time.
Nevertheless, two years later, I went to Sumatra. I had signed up for a volunteer internship to teach English at a school in Padang, West Sumatra. About ten days after my arrival, I felt pretty sick at night after a long day on the beach.. too much sun, I thought. But the whole night was awful and my host sister brought me to the hospital the next day. Unlucky me: Dengue fever! Again!
One week in hospital, looking a little tired..
This time it was different, I had really high fever and was extremely weak. I got hospitalized and the doc prohibited me to board a plane. Even though, that was my first thought.. let's get to Singapore or Kuala Lumpur and find a proper western hospital. But no chance, it is too risky to fly... if my blood values fall too low, I could cause a emergency landing! OMG! That sounded all kind of scary and my parents at home were also almost freaking out. Got thing, the hospital in Padang turned out to be quite fine, I got a really big room with a couch and air-conditioning (that is NO standard in Western Sumatra) and the doc was speaking English well enough. I had to spend one week there until my blood values rose again.. if they would have done that, it can get dangerous and cause inner bleeding.. so thank god, all went well. All I did in that week was sleeping, watching series and skyped with my family. Food was not a big deal, I couldn't hardly eat anything... with was a mistake, since a couple of month later I noticed that I loose some more hair than normal! That was due to the lack of vitamins and supply of protein to the hair, but luckily that was only a phase. My hair is as pretty as normal again ;) After my time in the hospital, I ended my internship and flew home to Germany. Mostly because I heard it can take month to fully recover, but I felt quite fine again after a couple of days, maybe a week. All in all, I think everything went well for me. I've heard stories from other people about incredible pain and worst experience of their life. This might be based on the serotype you catch and your personal well-being. People die from dengue-fever, unfortunately mostly children in affected areas...
It is said, that dengue fever is more severe the second or third time, for me, that was definitely the case, but the tropical physicians in Germany told me that this has been proven wrong. Almost none western tourist ever gets the severe versions of dengue fever. I hope they are right!
"Dengue fever won't stop me from traveling!"
As you might know, mosquito-borne diseases are common in pretty much all tropical regions, even northern Queensland in Australia. This makes it difficult to skip every region were dengue fever is indigenous. On the bright side, I already had two out of four dengue types, so my changes are 50% lower than for everyone else :D Anyhow, I will do a little self-experiment. I read about an effect from Vitamin B1 tablets. People say if you take a pill every day, mosquitoes will leave you alone. Sounds too good to be true. The effect should come from an "overdose" of this vitamin that will be sweat out and make your skin smell differently to the mosquitoes. Apart from that, it is harmless to your body. So, I will try this on our round-the-world trip and let you know if it works!