How Dengue fever made friendship with malaria

March 2, 2008  
Topics: Health, Peru

First of all, I would like to thank those who added up to my illness – the 3 mosquitos who liked and kissed me. Second, I am saying THANK YOU to those who were sending supporting words, and everybody else, who supported me mentally. My first dengue fever, my first malaria, my first time having both in combination. Bingo! Today I feel like new and fresh. All the parasites are hopefully gone…

While preparing for our jungle trip we carefully bought all needed stuff: mosquito nets, vitamin B pills (for throwing them at mosquitos), insect repellents… Well, actually the vitamin B was for daily intake, as we were told that mosquitos do not like the blood with vitamin B. So we tried to prepare well, but I got lost anyway…

I can assure – there were no mosquitos during our 5 weeks visit on Rio Napo. It was summer in the region, rain falls were rare. No rain, no water, no mosquitos… Alright, I do remember 2 or 3 insects on my arms trying to suck my blood, but that was it…

I all the time made jokes about Katja, as she was so careful getting in and out of the tent. She opens 1 cm, looks around, no mosquitos, squeezes like a snake outside the tent, and even though her last leg is still inside, she already is closing the zip of the tent. I behaved the complete opposite. I widely opened the tent, made enough space for myself to get out comfortably, I was never in a hurry, moved like the oldest turtle on earth… I was so confident because there were no mosquitos. I admit, I was wrong…

We always were sleeping either under the mosquito nets or inside our tent. All free from insects. While Katja was taking care spreading insect repellent or wearing a long-arm shirt, I was running around with a t-shirt not even thinking of any kind of mosquito protection, as i couldn’t see any of these blood suckers.

staying in Nathalie's house Nicolas outdoor kitchen - our home for two weeks

It started in the boat.

Exactly, 1 year ago, 18 of February, on Katja’s birthday, we moved into the French yacht, which brought us from Cuba to Panama. This year the same day we were getting into a cargo boat called Miluska, which was bringing us the last part of our river Napo journey. We just needed to get from Santa Clotilde to Iquitos.


We met 7 other backpackers in the 3rd floor of the boat, so we hung our hammocks next to them. Traveling in a boat is already another story, but now let’s make an overview of my fever marathon.

The second day on the boat I felt like getting fever. Traveling in the boat is not easy, so I thought I am just tired. However, in the afternoon I checked the temperature. It was 38. Why? What a puzzle… Maybe it is because of the yesterday’s super salty fish, which was served for the dinner by the kitchen of “Miluska”? We heard that it was dried before on the boat and lots of worms enjoyed their flesh already before us. In this case I would have likely had diarrhea as well. Or maybe I got cold the previous night? It was quite windy, and I slept without sleeping bag. In any case, we will arrive to Iquitos tomorrow where we can visit doctors and hear their opinion.

In the evening the boat made a short stop in Mazan village. I rushed to the telephone box in order to call our friend’s friend Pilar in Iquitos. In addition I was looking for purified water and s


ome bread. Could not get the bread. I see Katja waving from the boat and pointing to the bakery right in front of the port. I turn that direction. On the way I pass another house with weird shaped bread and ask if they sell it. The answer was negative. The bread was old. So why does it lay on the shelf?, I asked myself. I had to go back on the street. The entrance of the house was a bit lower than the street, so there were 3 wooden steps to climb. I am still with fever, in a rush, did not take care about the small wooden steps… My shoe appears to be 3 times wider than the middle step. My leg gets stuck between the step and the wall. I am falling backwards… Luckily, I softly catch the ground. I stand up. Man from another house runs towards me. “Que pasa? Que pasa?” Everything is alright, I kind of lie, the step was too narrow… At the same time Katja is watching me from the boat. I go up the street and suddenly disappear from her view. “Augustas fainted!”, was her thought. She forgot everything and hurried up to help me.

Meanwhile I stand up, clean the dust, feel few scratches on my right leg and finally reach the bakery. Here I get hot bread directly from the oven and go back to the boat. Katja is already on the shore, meets me, I calm her down, I am alive. Just that damn narrow step and my 46 size shoes… Time to rest. Looking forward to Iquitos…

Wednesday morning. Fever rises. Almost 39. Around 11 am we get out in Masusa port of Iquitos. We communicate with Pilar and after 1 hour of search we finally find each other. Poor Pilar is also not in the best state. Limping, as the nerves of her right leg have an inflammation, plus she is in the 4th months of pregnancy. With a motocar (3 wheel motorcycle taxi) we bring our bags to her house and immediately hurry up to the hospital. At that time I hardly saw anything, had no power to open my eyes, was sweating like hell and was totally without orientation.

Hospital Iquitos. For 3 soles ($1) I was attended by a doctor in the emergency department. He looked at me once and sent me straight away to the gota gruesa test. “Gota gruesa” means taking a drop of your blood, and examine it under the microscope in search of malaria parasites. My finger is poked. The result will take 2.5 hours. Katja asks for the mobile phone number of the medical sister and we go home to sleep. A later call to the hospital, and we know the malaria test was negative.

The other day. Maybe I just got cold and that’s it? While sitting at the Internet I got shivering. Did not wait long. Got back home, took a motocar and decided to visit another hospital. This time Hospital Regional. Here emergency attendance costs 7 soles ($2.3). The doctor orders another gota gruesa and a more detailed analysis of the blood. We are waiting for an hour. I have no strengths, laying on the floor, resting. Malaria test negative. Doctor diagnoses Dengue fever.

“Don’t worry,” he calms me down, “the fever will finish in 5 days. Afterwards your skin might get red. If bleeding in nose or teeth appears, hurry up to the hospital. If not, that’s it. Dengue will be gone.”

Fever was high, so the doctor told me to make an injection of metamizol drug, in order to reduce fever and pain. What pain? Alright, I did it. But I did not feel any difference from paracetamol…

Moreover, the doctor advised to visit Naval Hospital and get there a free analysis of what kind of Dengue I have. Sounded interesting, but we postponed this to the other day.

Friday. In the research center of Naval Hospital we had a chat with doctor Salomon. He made us understand that Dengue is not the only possibility for my sickness. He once again told us to consider malaria and mentioned a new name – Leptospirosis. This disease is transferred by open skin contact with water that was contaminated with urine of rats, dogs or other animals. The problem of Leptospirosis – its diagnosis lasts 1 month. So, before Dengue or malaria is not found, it is advisable to take antibiotics for Leptospirosis. If it is not prevented on time, its parasites start destroying liver and other organs.

and a bunch of them more

and a bunch of them more

Doctor Salomon sent us back to the Hospital of Iquitos, where he contacted doctor Sihuincha, a specialist of infectious diseases. Alright. Once again motocar, another 10 minutes ride through the streets, here we are back in the hospital. First we searched for a medical sister called Marcelina who works for the Naval Hosp
ital. She took the blood samples for analysis of Dengue and Leptospirosis. We also asked for another “gota gruesa” test, just in case (turned out to be negative again). Doctor Sihuincha prescribed doxycycline in order to prevent a spreading of Leptospirosis in my body – if there is such. Additionally, he advised to make another detailed blood, urine and stool test.

Friday afternoon. I feel every hour better. Fever drops below 38. Isn’t it the end of Dengue fever, which gradually decreases and the fifth day is gone?

Saturday morning we brought all the samples for analysis to the hospital. Fever was stable – around 37.5. We have spent another hour or two in the city center. I started to feel the fever rising again. A check with our electronic thermometer reveals 38.2. I take paracetamol and we rush home. It is 1 p.m. Checking again… 39.4 – one more paracetamol. After 2 hours everything looks beautiful – 37.7. I ask Katja to call biomagnetic doctor Yolanda in Ecuador, who promised to cure us through distance whenever we are sick on the road. Katja reached her, and she made a session for me the same evening. Meanwhile my temperature is rising again. Getting annoying. In the evening Katja communicates again with Yolanda. She found Dengue and Malaria p. vivax, which she has already started to eliminate (clean) with biomagnetic fields.

Sunday. Would have been good to make another malaria test. Unfortunately, have no strengths. Actually, such test does not make a difference. If I really have malaria vivax, we will anyway treat it! Katja called to doctor Sihuincha, who asked the doctor at the emergency section to provide a prescription for anti-malarian drugs. I am still in bed, Katja went to the hospital to pick up the medicine.

We did not know that biomagnetism also cures malaria, so the same morning Yolanda in Ecuador was cleaning my body from all the parasites during the second session. Probably it was one of the reasons why I felt very good Sunday afternoon. In any case, Katja came back with anti-malarian drugs and I started the killing act of parasites by taking 4 pills of Chloroquin. Various treatments combined made me feel very fresh and happy in the evening. At night the temperature dropped to normal.

Monday. Was wonderful and happy morning. My condition was better than never. Would have been able to serve cakes for Katja all the day. Making jokes and friendship with my savior – Katja. But the things got worse again. The fever gradually rose again. Katja went to call to Ecuador. Meanwhile I am feeling hot hot hot. I take paracetamol. Sweating… Needs to be done something. Yolanda says she cannot find any viruses nor parasites in my body. We suspect that taking doxycycline two times a day is blocking the proper communication with my biomagnetic fields.

In the afternoon I get another wave of high fever. We remembered about the american girl whom we met in Pantoja in Rio Napo, who was going to work in malaria project in Iquitos. How to find her? What was her name? Fortunately, we had an email address of another girl who travelled together with her. Quick communication by email and Eva, the girl from malaria project, brought us in contact with one more doctor in town, which finally also contacted earlier mentioned doctor Sihuincha. Lots of people were alerted. I was told to go to the laboratory of San Juan Hospital and make another “gota gruesa” test together with another, more complicated analysis for malaria, called PCR.

Monday evening. Me with fever of 39 and Katja are getting into the motocar. Journey to San Juan hospital is long, as it is located in the other end of the town, near the airport. After taking the samples, the laboratory doctor asked us to wait 1 hour for the first results. I am sweating in the laboratory on the bench, Katja went to search for some cookies and bread, as the whole day none of us had time to eat anything.

The answer is positive! The signal of Malaria p. falciparum is very very weak, but positive. Laboratory people are already talking with doctor Sihuincha by mobile phone. We have to go back to Iquitos Hospital to the emergency room where doctor Sihuincha will be waiting for us and will start treatment for the other kind of malaria. We look at the watch. 7 p.m… What a day… Still having high fever, we sit into motorcar and go to the other hospital. We arrived faster than Sihuincha. In the emergency room we noticed the same doctor from Regional Hospital who first diagnosed for me Dengue fever a couple of days ago.

Sihuincha arrived and prescribed Malaria p. falciparum treatment consisting of artesunato and mefloquin. One tablet of artesunato tonight, and the next 2 days a combination of 1 artesunato with 3 mefloquin. This should end all the troubles… That first magic artesunato pill took away my fever and I started to feel a bit better.

The other side of the pills. The next 3 nights I suffered insomnia. Whenever I managed to fall asleep, I was dreaming weird stuff. Like strange short movies in a row.

The first part of the movie series of course started with Gota Gruesa horror. There were millions of doctors who were willing to take a blood sample from my finger and to make more GOTA GRUESA tests… gota gruesa gota gruesa gota gruesa… Too much… I woke up.

In the next part of dreams Katja went to play basketball. I couldn’t join her because I had malaria, I was sick. Somehow in the scene appeared another few Lithuanians, and I decided to accompany them to their village. I was sitting in the train, and realised that I don’t know where I am going and neither Katja will know where she should come to meet me. I quickly went back home and found out that the flooding of streets has started…

In the other episode two pretty women with high heels at the bus station were chasing people and kicking their asses. I suspected that they were acting weird. There was a catch… I got it! They are pickpockets!

The most horrible story was about a blueish woman, who gave birth to a dead baby. That baby rather looked like an alien than human. Creature with a head getting narrow at the top and long nose… That woman was screaming like crazy… Maybe it was a dead malaria parasite?

In this mode all through the night. And during the days I felt as well like in a movie. My orientation and coordination was following far behind me. Important was not to forget to move slow, in order to synchronise my coordination with my body. Streets were another challenge to me. Without holding Katja’s hand I could hardly walk far. In other words, free condition of being drunk. Today, I would say, all this is gone, I can read again, I can write, just to talk German is still difficult…

By the way, there was a reason for the dream about flooded streets. Wednesday night a heavy storm swept over Iquitos. The area we live in was totally flooded. The water rose until it entered lower houses. Fortunately, the house we stay in has partly cement on the ground, so the level is higher and only the front room received a couple of waves from the newly created river road, after a motorcycle passed by the street. Our neighbours had more troubles, as all their floor is pure earth. We were already in beds, but behind the walls we still heard water being thrown out of the house leaving wet and muddy ground until the next day.

flooding through heavy rain in Iquitos supposedly our bathroom scary, if water enters your house in this way IMG_9609

So, that’s it for now. To summarize, I am alive!  Just we are still stuck in the middle of jungles, as Iquitos can be escaped only by water (3 days by boat) or by air. In any case, we are staying here for another week, as for the 7th of March I was asked to come back to the hospital for another blood sample for the research related to Dengue fever.

Check also ourRio Napo Guide – travelling from Coca (Ecuador) to Iquitos (Peru)


  1. Anonymous says:

    be the second