'They were burning hot': Father whose two kids got dengue feared the worst

1 month ago 30

SINGAPORE - When Mr Joakim Smidhagen heard the news in April this year that his neighbour who had dengue a few years ago had got it again, he sent him well-wishes.

He did not think much of it - and it certainly did not cross his mind that his own two sons and family helper would get infected soon after.

This, despite his home - a landed property in the Newton area - being in the vicinity of several dengue clusters in the past.

"It was sort of semi-denial - you take your precautions, but you never think it's actually going to happen (to you)," the 49-year-old, who is a director in the food and beverage industry, told The Straits Times.

A few days later, his eldest son, 11-year-old Mika, began complaining about a bad headache while the family was on an outing. He developed rashes on his arms as well, and his skin felt "very hot" to the touch.

"It was very hot outside... and he's gotten heat rashes before, so I thought okay, maybe it's just heat rash," recalled Mr Smidhagen.

But Mika continued to feel unwell even after drinking water and heading home to rest. The day after, his younger brother Adam, aged nine, began showing symptoms as well, with a fever that shot up to 39 deg C.

As their conditions did not improve three days later, Mr Smidhagen took his sons to the doctor, who did blood tests and confirmed that they had dengue.

Their blood platelet counts started dropping as well, to about half their normal levels.

To make matters worse, the family helper started feeling unwell shortly after the children's blood test results were returned, and soon tested positive.

The next week was an anxiety-laden, exhausting one for Mr Smidhagen, who did not know much about dengue before his family was infected.

"They were burning hot, it was worrying... I didn't really know what to expect," he said.

He had to try and keep his sons' fevers down through cold showers, as they refused to swallow medication.

Since the boys were too exhausted to give much feedback on how they were feeling, Mr Smidhagen also had to keep a very close eye on them.

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