JIS News

Story Highlights

  • Kedine Matthews Smith, the mother of a baby boy who recently contracted dengue fever, is warning other parents to take the disease seriously.
  • The St. James resident told JIS News that it was in late September of last year that her then six-month-old son, Jonathan, was diagnosed with dengue and had to be admitted to the Cornwall Regional Hospital.
  • Her son’s condition was serious and his blood platelet count started to drop, putting him at risk of bleeding and haemorrhage.

Kedine Matthews Smith, the mother of a baby boy who recently contracted dengue fever, is warning other parents to take the disease seriously.

The St. James resident told JIS News that it was in late September of last year that her then six-month-old son, Jonathan, was diagnosed with dengue and had to be admitted to the Cornwall Regional Hospital.

Her son’s condition was serious and his blood platelet count started to drop, putting him at risk of bleeding and haemorrhage.

Doctors kept a close watch and administered treatment to bring his blood count up to safe levels.

Mrs. Matthews Smith lauded the doctors and nurses on the paediatric ward, noting that the quality of care provided enabled her son to recover well from the illness.

With her child now fully recuperated, Mrs. Matthews Smith said she has been reaching out to other parents to tell them about her experience and encourage them to take dengue seriously, as the condition could present severe symptoms.

She is imploring parents to seek medical attention immediately if they suspect that their child has dengue.

“I have [been] passing on information to other parents, [telling them] that just in case your child has a fever that is not getting better, go as soon as possible to test for dengue and get treated,” she told JIS News.

Mrs. Matthews Smith said she also takes extra precautions around the home.

“I make sure that his crib is covered at all times. It used to be only covered when he was sleeping, but now I cover it at all times to ensure that mosquitoes do not go in and I also ensure that we do not have any water settled around the house,” she said.

She noted that even the smallest amount of water could become a breeding ground for mosquitoes.

“Even the simplest things that you assume would have no mosquitos in them, things like the toothbrush holder, sometimes there is water in there, and mosquitoes can get into it, so it has to be washed out quite often,” Mrs. Matthews Smith said.

Medical Officer of Health for St. James, Dr. Marcia Campbell Johnson, explained that dengue fever or other viral infections can cause the blood platelet count to decrease, making the patient more likely to bleed, which could result in shock and death.

“That is why we talk about dengue haemorrhagic fever; so they will have bleeding from the gum, under the skin, bleeding from the nose or they vomit up blood, or pass blood from the anus,” she told JIS News.

Dr. Campbell Johnson noted that a blood test is done as part of dengue fever screening to determine the patient’s blood platelet count.

She explained that a low platelet count can improve by administering fluid and allowing the patient to rest, but noted that in some cases, patients may require a blood transfusion.

She is imploring parents, particularly of young children, to look out for the more severe symptoms of dengue.

These include persistent vomiting, abdominal pain, if the child is weak or lethargic, dehydration, persistent fever and any evidence of bleeding, whether from the gums or nose.

“Look for blood in the vomit or purplish blotches, which suggest bleeding under the skin, but especially, look for whether or not the child is active,” she advised.

The Aedes aegypti mosquito is responsible for the transmission of dengue, Zika and chikungunya viruses.

Common symptoms of dengue include sudden onset of high fever with severe headache, fatigue, pain behind the eyes, muscle, bone or joint pain, skin rash and vomiting or feeling nauseous.