Being hospitalized with dengue fever is probably not what she wanted to do with her vacation. (Instagram/alliewes)
YouTube star Allie Wesenberg is on the mend after being a part of an outbreak of dengue fever in Hawaii.
Wesenberg recently contracted the disease during a vacation in Hawaii. At least 15 people have been infected as of Thursday, the Hawaii Department of Health said in a news release.
Wesenberg’s boyfriend and YouTube co-star Charles Trippy documented her six-day hospital stay in a series of videos posted on his channel, Internet Killed Television.
“I started to see all these crazy side effects,” Wesenberg said in a video after returning home from the hospital. “My body started to ache. My bones hurt, it was awful. I seriously thought I was going to die.”
About 400 million people in the world are infected with dengue fever each year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports, but it “rarely” occurs in the continental U.S.
While travelers are most at risk of contracting the disease, board-certified infectious disease specialist Amesh A. Adalja, MD, an assistant professor at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, tells Yahoo Health that dengue fever has shown up in the Key West area of Florida, Hawaii, and Texas, along the border of Mexico.
People can become infected with the virus after being bitten by an Aedes mosquito, which can carry the disease, but it’s not spread through person-to-person contact, he says. However, it’s also possible for a mosquito to bite a person who is carrying the disease and spread it to the mosquito population (which then can infect more people).
Symptoms include a high fever that can last up to a week, muscle and bone aches, severe headaches, pain behind the eyes, and a rash. In more severe cases, it can lead to shock and even death, Adalja says.
There are four different types of the dengue virus, and the severity of a person’s reaction often depends on how often they contract it. “When you get infected the first time, it might not be that bad,” Adalja says. “But if you get infected with another type, you’re at a higher risk for severe infection, which can be life-threatening.”
Unfortunately, there is no cure for dengue fever — it’s typically treated with fluids and pain medication. There also is no vaccine for dengue fever, although Adalja says one is currently undergoing a clinical trial.
So, is this something the average American should be concerned about? Maybe.
Adalja says it’s “definitely something to think about” if you live in an area where the Aedes mosquito is prevalent or if people in your area often travel to tropical destinations where dengue fever is common.
And, of course, if you’re traveling to a tropical destination, Adalja recommends being aware of the risks of mosquito bites and working to prevent them.