Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Health, Dengue fever, travel insurance

Health Dengue mosquitoes

There is an old saying; "If you can not afford Travel Insurance - you can not afford to travel", is as true for Bali as it is for any other journey.

For those living in Australia, especially Perth and Darwin, Bali is cheap and quick to get to and there is the temptation to forgo travel insurance.

Without getting paranoid travellers should take sensible precautions. Even the smallest graze should be carefully watched in case it becomes infected.

Luckily now in Bali there are several places where tourists can seek treatment, if needed. Two of the best known are BIMC ( Bali International Medical Centre ) and SOS. Both are close to each other on the road to Sanur almost opposite Bali Galeria.

With the outdoor living style of Bali mosquitoes can be a problem. Until recently fly screens were unknown in Bali. When I wanted to fly screen my villa I had to take fly netting from Australia.

Insect repellents are easy to get in Bali. One common local brand is Autan and it is very effective. Many travellers recommend insect spray that is high in DEET content. I usually spray hotel bedrooms before going to bed. Mosquito coils can also be effective. The latest electronic devices where a vapour is released every so often are also excellent.

The small cicaks seen crawling up walls and on ceilings are tourists best friends as their main diet is mosquitoes and flies.

Much has been written about Dengue fever during the last year. It is a fact that Australia especially Queensland, in 2010, has had the highest recorded cases of Dengue fever.

Dengue fever is transmitted by a DAYTIME mosquito. In Bali it is a black and white striped mosquito known as the zebra mosquito.

In Bali there are 4 strains of Dengue. Once you have had one strain you are immune to that one strain. I am not sure how many strains there are in Australia.

I contracted my Dengue on Lembongan Island in 2005. Five days after returning to Bali I woke up feeling terrible. The symptoms like severe flu. I insisted on being taken to BIMC. I spent a week there on a drip. Dengue reduces the number of white cells in the blood and the patient becomes susceptible to secondary infections. The nursing staff monitor bleeding, which can occur from gums, eyes, urine and even through hands. Normally the white count is in 1000s. Mine dropped to 32. A count of 30 is  critical and evacuation back to Australia considered. Luckily after my lowest count I recovered quite quickly. The Balinese often do not seek medical help as it is too expensive for them. Deaths do occur, mainly in the very young, old and those with other complications.

My Balinese friends did not accept that a mosquito caused my Dengue. They said "the wind caused it." this is a quite common explanation. To ensure it did not happen again I had to have a bigger and more elaborate temple built in the garden. It has worked I have not had Dengue again.

I have been back to Bali 25 times since my bout of Dengue. I take precautions but do not let it spoil my holiday by worrying too much.
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