Dengue cases in Singapore continue to rise at alarming rates. Mama of two Melanie Muttitt caught dengue during her second trimester of pregnancy and ended up in ICU as a precaution
As mamas, we do everything we can to protect ourselves and our kiddos from the awful “D Word” – dengue. The virus can be quite a terrifying experience, but what happens if you get dengue while you’re pregnant? That’s exactly what happened to South African mum of two, Melanie Muttitt, who found herself in the ICU after contracting the virus in April 2022 during her second trimester. According to NEA more than 6,000 dengue cases have been reported this year to date, exceeding the total 5,258 cases reported for the whole of 2021! That’s even before Singapore reaches the usual peak dengue season from June to October. Melanie lives in one of the current active dengue clusters (you can find out if you live in a dengue cluster here). We caught up with Melanie to hear about her experience contracting dengue, how her symptoms affected her and what tips she has for the rest of us to stay safe!
Body aches were the first sign of dengue fever
I first had an inkling that I might have contracted dengue fever when I started to experience severe body aches all over. I didn’t have any other common cold symptoms like a sore throat or cough so I didn’t think it was a cold or flu. In addition to deep muscle aches I also started to get pain in my eye sockets and headaches – all of which I had read can be dengue symptoms. The area we live in is a high-risk dengue zone, so this added to my suspicions.
I’m in my second trimester so I was nervous for my own health and the safety of my baby and decided to go to a 24-hour clinic as I had symptoms over a weekend. I asked to be tested for dengue fever but unfortunately, the doctor did not take my symptoms seriously and sent me home saying I had a common cold.
Dengue positive and rushed to ICU
My symptoms persisted and so on Monday, I went to IMC where they tested me for dengue. It wasn’t long before the results came in – and as I had suspected it came back positive for dengue fever. I was immediately sent to A&E as a precaution because of my pregnancy and as my blood pressure was very low.
After being admitted to NUH I was placed in the general ward for one night. The following day I was moved to ICU for 3 nights because my blood pressure remained dangerously low and they were worried about me and the baby.
I know that 99% of dengue cases are not severe like mine was and that doctors just wanted to keep a close eye on me and my baby to be able to catch any complications early. The doctors were mainly monitoring my blood count, low blood pressure and baby’s heartbeat. I was given fluids through a drip and also given dopamine for low blood pressure. There is no real medication you can take to “cure” dengue – generally treatments are mostly supportive and include taking paracetamol, resting and taking LOTS of fluids.
Emotionally and physically I was a wreck
I had a rollercoaster of emotions from feeling like perhaps being hospitalised was an extreme precaution to also being extremely worried. I was quite teary most days as my two kids Harry and Willow couldn’t visit so I didn’t see them for almost a week!
Physically, having dengue fever was exhausting. The body aches are something I have never felt before (except in labour) – intense!
My daughter Willow got dengue one week later. She had a fever of 39/40 for 2 days and was extremely fatigued. She recovered very quickly after her fever broke but did take a week off school as she was still quite fatigued.
The slow recovery from dengue fever
This is my first experience with dengue, and it has been three weeks now since I contracted it. I’m only now getting my energy back, and my only lingering symptom has been the constant lethargy. I suppose with being pregnant on top of the dengue it is hard for me to say exactly what is what…. but it was tough for me to be back at work and manage everything else as my body just felt quite weak and tired.
Advice for others to stay safe from dengue
We thought we had taken all the measures to protect against dengue but unfortunately, my daughter and I still caught it. We do bimonthly fogging – we stay in a landed house – we spray ourselves regularly with repellent, we burn coils, we have multiple mosquito zappers around the house, and we of course follow the general safe practices to avoid dengue such as emptying out water pots.
I would say try to check if you live in a dengue hotspot and be extra cautious if so! The main advice from doctors was hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!
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