Monday, May 28, 2012

A really good excuse for not posting more about Kiribati

As a PhD student, I learned a lot about this tropical virus called dengue fever. A fellow student had developed a pretty impressive model that simulated the effect of climate, basically heat and rainfall, on the spread of Aedes Aegypti, the mosquito that transmits dengue. I consumed so many practice presentations and read so many draft papers that the symptoms of dengue became pretty much permanently stored in my brain, along with some atmospheric physics, coral ecology, useless sports trivia, the names of Canadians in Hollywood, etc.

So when the dangerously high fever, nausea, roller-coaster level dizziness, and random back and knee pain suddenly struck on Abaiang Atoll two weeks ago, I may have barely known who I was or where I was, but I certainly know what I had. The worst is now over, thanks to the numerous people, especially my caring i-Kiribati colleagues and the doctors in Tarawa. Safe to say, I have first-hand evidence why people at home might want to fear the northward spread of dengue as the planet warms.

Once the headaches and residual fatigue pass, I'll write a bit more about the research we did in Kiribati. In the mean time, I appreciate any more donations to the field research via Scifund. Only three days left!!


Tyler said...

Oh no! You got dengue fever?! I'm glad you recovered!

But I hope you never get it again--dengue fever is significantly worse (often fatal) if you get it a second time...

Robert Grumbine said...

To echo Tyler, as I know on of the minority who survived it, you definitely want to avoid exposure to a second strain of dengue. A different dengue encounter gives dengue hemorrhagic fever. While dengue is bad, DHF is fatal in about 2/3rds of the cases.

My friend was in the 1/3rd who survived. That meant she 'only' has had lifelong aftereffects, and took easily a year to regain normal brain function. (The hemorrhaging included leakage in the brain, as is common with DHF and part of the reason it is so often fatal.)

I hope you can send students to do your fieldwork, or at least you have a good supply of mosquito repellant.