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Young Canadian Tourist Dies After Catching Dengue Fever In Jamaica

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A 26-year-old Ontario woman died after contracting dengue fever while attending a friend’s destination wedding in Jamaica.

Jodie Dicks from Toronto, Ont., contracted a severe case of dengue fever while attending her friend’s destination wedding in Jamaica. After spending a few days in a Jamaican hospital, she was flown to a Florida medical centre, where she suffered two heart attacks and died in her mother's arms on Jan. 26.

Jodie Dicks
Jodie Dicks (Image: Randy Boissoin - Facebook)

On Thursday, Jan. 16, Jodie flew with her best friend to Jamaica for the destination wedding. But by Tuesday, the day after the ceremony, her family said Jodie had started feeling unwell.

She began developing a rash, a common symptom of dengue fever, but was told it was likely a heat rash.

Jodie was supposed to leave the following Thursday and had even packed her luggage to go home.

jodie dicks dengue fever
Jodie Dicks (Image: Randy Boissoin - Facebook)

But her condition worsened.

“She was all confused. She didn’t know where she was. She didn’t know who she was,” Dicks said, adding Jodie didn’t even recognize her childhood friend.

After hearing the news, Jodie’s stepfather, biological mother and Jodie’s long-time boyfriend all rushed to Jamaica to be by her side. Her memory of them had faded to the point that she had difficulty remembering them.

Jodie had been receiving blood and plasma transfusions, but Dicks said that because the hospital was running out of blood she had to be moved to a hospital in Florida.

Jodie Dicks (Image: Randy Boissoin - Facebook)

Only Jodie’s biological mother was able to go with her on the emergency medical helicopter. So Jodie's stepfather and boyfriend were forced to wait for another flight in a Jamaican airport.

And after receiving more blood transfusions, Jodie took a turn for the worse and suffered two cardiac arrests. During all the commotion, her mother rushed into the room to hold her.

“And she died there with her mother at her side,” Dicks said.

Jodie’s stepfather said it was heartbreaking not being there.

“For your daughter to pass away and your wife to be there by herself and you’re stuck sitting in an airport in Jamaica — you just can’t find words for it,” Boissoin said, posting about the ordeal on Facebook.

The family is now warning people to take precautions before going to the region and ensure they check travel advisories before leaving Canada.

Dr. Melissa Lem, a Vancouver-based family physician, told that the “dengue vaccine is not available in Canada, but if you manage to get it in another country it's considered about 70 per cent effective.”

She also said people have a stronger chance of contracting dengue fever in countries with warmer climates. Lem is also suggesting travellers look for warnings from accredited government websites before buying a ticket.

Mosquitos are the primary way the virus is spread, Lem said. Symptoms for dengue fever include a sudden high fever, rash, nausea, swollen glands and pain in the bones, joints and eyes.

Tourists shold protect themselves from Mosquito bites even in resorts
Tourists shold protect themselves from Mosquito bites at resorts in tropical locations

The CDC suggests teh following to protect yourself from Dengue Fever: 

  • Wear long-sleeve shirts and long pants.
  • Treat clothes with repellents like permethrin.
  • Use EPA-registered mosquito repellent like DEET.
  • Consider using mosquito netting if you will be in an areas with many mosquitoes.
  • Make sure windows and doors screens are closed to avoid allowing mosquitoes into inclosed spaces.
  • Avoid areas with standing water. Especially at times of high mosquito activity like dawn and dusk.

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Source: CTV