Oropouche fever is a tropical disease that typically manifests itself in epidemics rather than single cases here and there. It is a febrile illness with no particular telling characteristics other than it is often compared to mild cases of dengue fever. Oropouche fever is named after the Oropouche River found in Trinidad and Tobago.
There is also a nickname for this tropical illness, febre de Mojui, named after a village called Mojui in Northern Brazil where the illness presented itself during a clearing of rainforested areas there.
Caused by the Oropouche virus, it belongs to the bunyaviridae family of arboviruses and is quite infectious thanks to the bite from mosquitoes as well as a particular type of fly called a midge. Sloths carry this virus and the flies and mosquitoes bite them and carry the infection within their bodies until such time they take a blood meal from a human and pass the virus onto them. In addition to the Trinidad and Tobago, Brazil, Panama, the Caribbean and areas of the Amazon region all have these mosquitoes and midge flies.
Symptoms and Signs of Oropouche Fever
The incubation period from the bite of the infected mosquito or midge to the first signs of infection is typically around 3 to 8 days although it could be as high as 12 days. Fever is most common with temperatures often up to 104 F along with severe headaches, neck and back pain, joint pain and extreme sensitivity to light. Bronchitis, nausea, diarrhea, abdominal pain and burning sensations all over the body are other symptoms of this tropical disease.
While Oropouche fever lasts about a week, recovery time is slow. There are some people who are afflicted with it that have recurring symptoms for an extended period of time. Luckily, this disease is not really a deadly one, just one that causes a lot of suffering.
Treatment of Oropouche Fever
Treatment consists of drinking plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration as well as taking analgesics for the pain from headaches, body pain and fever. Aspirin products are not recommended however as it can hamper blood clotting, hampering recovery time.
In extreme cases of Oropouche fever, an antiviral therapy, specifically a drug called ribavirin, may be prescribed to help combat the virus. No cure for viruses exists so treatment of symptoms is usually the only recourse.
Prevention of the Disease
Because Oropouche fever is usually present in epidemics, chances are that you would not bring the illness home after visiting one of the areas where the midge fly or mosquitoes live. By checking into the area before leaving home for your trip, you can prepare in advance based on the health reports you receive from the area. Disease outbreaks and epidemics are well-documented.
Should you travel to these areas prone to have Oropouche fever, be prepared to protect yourself against the mosquitoes and biting midge flies. The liberal use of DEET-based insect repellents is wise as is wearing long-sleeved clothing and long pants. All loose clothing should be tucked in to prevent the biting pests from finding uncovered skin. Mosquito netting is also advised for sleeping areas as well as covered hats.