Before I left New York, I had to worry about encephalitis.
This was 10 years ago.
Ten years ago, my kids were much smaller, I was still a somewhat new Momma, and I worried a lot.
When we moved to Manila. I no longer worried about encephalitis. Instead, I had to worry about Dengue. I was forever vigilant about putting mosquito repellant on the kids. Each time a new product would come out on the market, I would switch so that I could find a healthier alternative to protecting my children from this scary virus that was transmitted by mosquitoes.
I switched from a deet laced lotion, to an all natural oil. Then when the citronella stickers came out, I switched over to that because it was even easier to protect the kids when they went out, because I would tell them to “Put on the sticker.”
Even with all of these precautions, we have had many a dengue scare in our household. In fact almost two years ago, Nino was fighting for his life in a hospital bed in Asian when his platelet counts were so dangerously low that I was praying harder than I have every prayed before.
Not too long after that, we had another scare with Miguel. He had to be hospitalized because he was severely dehydrated and exhibiting some of the signs and symptoms that accompany this debilitating virus. Our pedia asked for him to be admitted because he was in such bad shape. Upon admission we were relieved when the test came back negative for dengue…
What that dengue duo test ALSO told us, was that at some point, Miguel ACTUALLY had already had dengue and we didn’t know it. He tested positive for antibodies, which meant that since we didn’t know, we were extremely lucky it was a mild case.
Last month, on October 19th, I had the opportunity to learn more about Dengue and the new groundbreaking vaccine to prevent my family members from being affected by this virus in the future.
Always wanting to learn more, I attended a press conference where Sanofi would address and answer all questions, not just about the first vaccine in the world to prevent this virus from wreaking havoc on your immune system, but also about the virus itself.
Turns out, I didn’t know as much about Dengue as I thought.
1) Dengue is transmitted by mosquitoes who are infected with the virus.
OK. This part I knew. But hearing this again, I realized I have to pay closer attention to the areas near in our home where mosquitoes can breed and multiply. This is one of the many vital precautions I must make in Dengue prevention.
2) Dengue is no longer just a seasonal concern.
Before, we would just be concerned during the rainy season with the threat of dengue. But what I learned during this press conference is that we have to protect ourselves and our children YEAR ROUND. With global warming and climate change, our rainy season has not only shifted, it has become a little less predictable. As a momma, I need to pay attention to this.
4) There are four serotypes of Dengue endemic to Southeast Asia.
This means that you could get dengue four times, and because of the different strains, your body will still not develop complete immunity to fighting it.
Do you know how it works when a virus is introduced into your body?
Your body produces the antibodies to fight and then when that virus is introduced again, you would already have a first line of defense and a better chance of better health. Well, it would only be after the fourth time that you would have had the antibodies for all because of the four different strains. That’s kinda scary.
So what does that mean for the Philippines?
It means that we have over 150,000 (reported) cases per year.
5) By the time a child is 9 years old, he or she has already been affected by dengue.
Hello! This is what happened with Miguel! It means that he was bit by a mosquito that was infected, he had mild symptoms of the virus…AND I DIDN’T KNOW.
What’s so scary about this?
Not knowing how best to care for my child leaves me feeling awfully powerless.
I don’t want THAT feeling when it comes to raising my children up and meeting their needs.
So what does that mean for the Philippines?
It means that for every 40 cases of Dengue that occur, only ONE is reported.
6) Typically, the second instance (or serotype) of infection is usually the worst.
So if (usually) the first instance goes undetected, when someone is infected a second time that’s the time that you will end up in the hospital because it ends up being so severe.
In Nino’s case, he was sick for more than a week. His fever was spiking and dropping, and exhibited many of the flu like symptoms we know accompany this virus. He didn’t have an appetite, and was achy in his joints.
You know how guys typically don’t like to go to the doctor? Well my husband is no exception. It wasn’t until his 5th day of fever spiking and subsiding that he finally agreed to go to the clinic. At that point he was already fearful it was dengue because his legs and back were so painful, he couldn’t even walk.
What was even more heartbreaking for him, was the fact that his Lola was already very sick at this time as well. His family was in the process of saying good bye to her, and because he was laid up in the hospital, he couldn’t even pay his respects by going to the funeral. He was just too weak.
7) There is a huge financial burden that occurs when you are struck with a severe case of dengue.
Ok. I totally knew this. I paid the hospital bill when Nino was released from Asian. But to be honest, it is not something I considered in terms of the cost for a country. The cost for people who cannot afford the care that we were blessed to have when Nino was stricken with this virus. Luckily, we could pay the bill. Luckily, we were able to afford the care that he needed. But I also know and understand that everyone is NOT as lucky. And this worries me. It worries me for all the kids who won’t get the care they need, simply because they can’t afford it.
8) Sanofi has spent 20 years studying and researching to come up with a vaccine that will seriously reduce the instances dengue strikes the Asian Population.
Ok. So will all the precautions that I take to protect my family, I can take a more definitive stance against keeping my children (and my husband) safe. I learned through this press conference that Dengivax can be administered to children and adults between the ages of 9-45 years of age. I learned that this vaccine is administered in three doses. I also learned that the Philippine government is playing an active role together with the Department of Health in administering this vaccine to people who live in Dengue prone areas.
So what does that mean for my family?
After attending the press conference, I had a ton of information that I KNEW I needed to discuss with Nino how we could better take care of our family, and if we would consider this vaccine as an option for us.
If you would like to know more about the vaccine, and the strides that are being made in the prevention of this debilitating sickness check out the study by the World Health Organization by clicking here.