My first time… Contracting Dengue Fever!

Casa Dom Inacio - Home of John of God

Casa Dom Inacio – Home of John of God

During the spiritual portion of my 2013 Epic Journey, I traveled to the small town of Abadiânia, in the province of Goiás, Brazil. It is there where one can be in the presence of João Teixeira de Faria – John of God (João de Deus). He is known to be a medium and a psychic surgeon by channeling Entities.

I had no idea who he was 6 months prior, however when I mentioned to my Usui Reiki instructor of my intent to visit Brazil in 2013 – she insisted that I must pay him a visit. Of course I googled him and found out Oprah had interviewed him. So I decided to include it as part of my journey if time allowed.

I ended up staying in Abadiania for 13 days, met a bunch of like-minded, esoteric travelers from around the world and gained a Brazilian family. Fortunately, I also received permission from the Entities to be a guide for the Casa.

However, 2 days before my intended departure for Brasilia, I felt the onset of a fever, along with muscle and joint pains and a rash on parts of my body. My skin showed a bunch of pink dots but it was not itchy, just felt hot to the touch. I wasn’t sure what was wrong. At this point, my body had collected dozens of mosquito bites but that’s normal and expected as I had been traveling in South America for 3 full months. To this day, I have no idea exactly where I received the deciding bite.

I did not put two and two together. Also, I did not know that these are key symptoms of Dengue fever! Dengue is also known as the breakbone fever because some patients experience severely painful joints and muscle pains.

Just a few days prior, a fellow spiritual traveler from Sweden suffered from high fever, painful joints and similar rash. He had been in town for over a month by that point. Needless to say, he was bedridden for several days and I was relieved when his symptoms disappeared before his flight back home.

Oddly and luckily, I only had a mild fever and minor aches and pains which I related to symptoms of the flu. I’m from Canada after all. But if it was just a flu, the rash requires a different explanation.

My “Brazilian mother” was concerned and feared I had contracted Dengue fever when I mentioned my symptoms to her. She insisted that I visit the local medical clinic with her. Luckily she’s fluent in English and Portuguese (and several other languages)!!

The local clinic was basic but sufficient. A nurse at the intake desk. A long corridor with rooms on both sides. The doctor-on-call sat in the office at the end of the hallway. After filling out some paper work, my “mother” sat and waited with me. Coincidentally or not, there was a poster describing the typical symptoms of dengue fever on the wall.

The poster said all symptoms are to be present and I didn’t exhibit all the typical symptoms associated with Dengue fever – I only had 3. Though the easiest and fastest method to find out the truth was a simple blood test.

The principal symptoms of dengue are:

  • High fever and at least two of the following:
    • Severe headache
    • Severe eye pain (behind eyes)
    • Joint pain
    • Muscle and/or bone pain
    • Rash
    • Mild bleeding manifestation (e.g., nose or gum bleed, petechiae, or easy bruising)
    • Low white cell count

(Source: Center for Disease Control)

After a thorough talk with the doctor, I was given a blood test request form, acetaminophen, several packages of re-hydration salts and an on-the-spot IV drip for re-hydration. There is no cure for dengue fever, once contracted and the person survives, that body will create anti-bodies for that type of dengue fever. As the closest blood test facility was in the nearby city of Anapolis, which I had visited just a couple days earlier, I decided to not get it done.

I figured that I will confirm the suspicion when I return back to Canada. There was no point in stressing over the question – It is what it is. Whether or not I have dengue, I could not change it and there was nothing more for me to do. I did not want this to ruin the rest of my journey.

Brazilian nurse administer medication to treat Dengue fever in Abadiania, Brazil

Brazilian nurse administer medication to treat Dengue fever in Abadiania, Brazil

Single Woman receives IV drip as treatment for Dengue fever in Abadiania, Brazil

Single Woman receives IV drip as treatment for Dengue fever

It wasn’t until we walked back to the car did I think that I should have brought proof of my travel insurance coverage or my wallet. I asked my “Brazilian mother” how much I owe her or the Brazilian health care system.

Her answer, “Zero dollars”!!!  My eyes bulged and my jaw dropped – I had no idea the medical system in Brazil is completely free, even for a visiting foreigner! How amazing pants is that!?!!

Brazil is home to a 2-tiered system: Public national health care – Sistema Único de Saúde (SUS) and the Private health care. The Brazilian government follows the motto – “Health for All”.

I am grateful I did not have to go through travel insurance claim hurdles because of this incident!

For the remainder of that day, I rested in preparation of my day trip to Brasilia and an overnight bus into Rio de Janeiro. Little did I know that my life would be changed on that bus ride.

Upon return to Toronto, Canada, I made an appointment with my family doctor. I asked her to test for dengue fever, parasites and other tropical diseases. The blood test came back and showed my blood now contains anti-bodies for one strain of dengue fever. Everything else was healthy and normal.

As I write this post, I miss the daily bowl of acai pudding which I savoured while staying in Abadiania!

Stay healthy! Travel Safe!

Acai pudding with banana and lime juice

Acai pudding with banana and lime juice

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