As dengue outbreak grows, Big Island woman describes battling di - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

As dengue outbreak grows, Big Island woman describes battling disease

BreeLyn DuPertuis, 37, says battling dengue fever was like nothing she's ever experienced. BreeLyn DuPertuis, 37, says battling dengue fever was like nothing she's ever experienced.

For some, dengue fever symptoms are isolated to just an uncomfortably high fever. But that wasn't the case for one Honaunau woman.

BreeLyn DuPertuis, 37, says six weeks after she was diagnosed with dengue fever, she still coming to terms with the trauma of the experience.

"It affects your body and your capabilities. It affects your mind. The fever, the pain, the way that it moves and travels -- the whole thing is shocking," said DuPertuis, who is studying to become a massage therapist.

There are now 176 confirmed cases of dengue fever on Hawaii Island -- that's up six cases from Tuesday.

Officials say the latest patients got sick as recently as last Thursday, and that eight are still infectious (which means they can pass dengue onto a mosquito if bitten).

Meanwhile on Wednesday, a Hawaii Health Department investigation has identified a hot spot in the Milolii community. Hawaii County Civil Defense and DOH teams were in the area this week to meet with residents and identify mosquito hazards.

Experts say classic dengue fever symptoms aren't manifested by everyone who contracts the disease. (Many people don't have any symptoms.) It's one of the reasons why they believe the numbers reported by the state Health Department are probably much lower than the true scale of infection.

DuPertuis believes she was bitten by a mosquito infected with the disease on November 1. A week later, in the span of just five hours, she says she went from feeling fine to a 104-degree fever and excruciating pain all over her body.

"When the fever hit, I noticed that my brain thought process was going a little bit weird and I knew something was off -- and then I couldn't move. Instantly I could barely walk. Quickly after that I had a headache that is unparalleled. I've never felt anything like it," DuPertuis said.

DuPertuis says a rash also appeared on her arm, legs and belly, causing swelling so severe, she was unable to use her hands for two days.

"It was like a tingly, burning pain irritation -- not itchy like an allergy, but just all around discomfort."

DuPertuis says for nearly two weeks, she was completely incapable of caring for herself.

DuPertuis' mother, Teri Callaghan, said she would "literally stand over her hour after hour and make sure she was drinking because she just wasn't coherent enough to be responsive."

DuPertuis says everything was struggle - from eating to opening her eyes.

She says she also now understands why the disease is also referred to as "breakbone fever."

"In my joints there was just very sharp consistent pulsing pain, but what happened -- even two weeks after the fever had broken -- I was feeling increased pain from my joints down into my bones and it almost was like it was twisting," she said.

DuPertuis says she would sometimes go days without sleeping, but her mother stayed by her side the entire time -- nursing her back to health.

State officials say all confirmed cases to date have recovered or are recovering.

In addition to the confirmed cases to date, 687 suspect cases have been ruled out as dengue fever.

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