Amid coronavirus hype, schools get hit by dengue

Tuesday March 03, 2020 Written by Published in Health
Nukutere College teacher Cassidy Jackson-Carroll was bedridden for a week with dengue fever. 20030212 Nukutere College teacher Cassidy Jackson-Carroll was bedridden for a week with dengue fever. 20030212

Parents and sufferers concerned at ‘lack of urgency’ in responding to dengue.


Schools have been struck by dengue fever, especially Nukutere College which has three cases.

Parents are concerned the Ministry of Health has taken its eye off the ball. One upset mum said her 12-year-old son was wrongly diagnosed with a throat infection.

“He continued to get worse so, with advice from a teacher at Nukutere, I took him to Dr Nini Wynn at the new private clinic last week to have him tested. In just a few hours, the doctor called and confirmed he had dengue.

“There’s so much coronavirus awareness out there, we’ve forgotten about the disease we have here, like dengue.”

Cassidy Jackson-Carroll, an English teacher at Nukutere College, suffered from symptoms of dengue fever for some time, not knowing she had contracted the disease.

Unable to cope with feeling unwell for weeks, she finally dragged herself to Tupapa outpatients clinic where a blood test was taken.

Days later, results confirmed she had dengue fever.

Jackson-Carroll said she was unaware that dengue was still around and people were testing positive for the illness, until her results were revealed.

“It seemed to me that as much as dengue is on the island, there’s no sense of urgency or importance placed on it,” she said. “I was actually quite shocked at the lack of sympathy and the lack of care towards dengue.”

An outbreak of Dengue type-1 was declared a year ago, following the confirmation of seven cases. There have now been 163 cases.

Eleven cases were reported last month – nearly double the six in December.

Jackson-Carroll said the Ministry of Health needed to inform the public and keep up the awareness of the illness.

“Don’t hide the fact that people are suffering from dengue,” she said. “Let people know that dengue is not contagious.”

Her symptoms included: fevers and sweating at night with a pounding headache, fatigue, exhaustion trying to do anything, achy joints, headaches, behind the eyes, tingling legs and bouts of dizziness.

“There’s not much you can do, rest and drink water,” she says.

More education and programmes on dengue should be delivered to the students and the public, continued Jackson-Carroll.

Since the beginning of the outbreak, a total of 49 sufferers have been hospitalised and discharged, including one patient last month. Aitutaki, too, has had four cases.

Symptoms to be aware of include fever, with one or more of nausea/vomiting, rash, aches and pains such as headache, eye pain or joint pain.

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