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Sarah y Eloy help with the sunflower painting for their wash room.  June 2013

Sarah y Eloy help with the sunflower painting for their wash room. June 2013

My friend Sarah dropped off a care package last month when I was recovering from dengue. In that thoughtful assortment of goodies was a blister pack of pain relievers. “I’ll bet you’ve taken a lot of these,” she smiled.

Sarah is a nurse, and I squirmed a bit when I answered, “Actually, I haven’t taken anything for the pain.” I added, “If I take medicine for the pain, it will lower my fever, and I feel as if that fever is there to burn out the virus. If I lower the fever, the virus lingers in my body for a longer period of time…”

I also stated that I felt it my duty to keep my infectious disease ‘quarantined’ during the fever stage so that I did not infect other people or other areas. I knew that the clinic was a short distance away in case of an emergency. (After the fever passed and I was stronger, I visited the clinic.)


I would never advise others to avoid pain killers or fever medications, but fifteen years ago I took fever reducers and was sick for two weeks. This time the high fever lasted less than two days, though the evolution of this dengue was totally different from the last.  (There was also an added complication of the tag-along chikungunya virus that was hiding in the background.)

Little Miss Sunshine, my companion on the June Solstice 2013

I suspect there are as many people who believe in the power of a fever, as there are people who think it’s best to lower a high fever as soon as possible. Several reputable sites have published articles about the ‘benefits of fever:

Catch the Fever – It will help you fight off infection (EurekAlert/Global Source for Science News)

“New research published in the Journal of Leukocyte Biology demonstrates that elevated body temperature plays a vital role on the generation of effective T-cell mediated immune response… “Having a fever might be uncomfortable,” said John Wherry, Ph.D., Deputy Editor of the Journal of Leukocyte Biology, “but this research report and several others are showing that having a fever is part of an effective immune response. We had previously thought that the microbes that infect us simply can’t replicate as well when we have fevers, but this new work also suggests that the immune system might be temporarily enhanced functionally when our temperatures rise with fever. Although very high body temperatures are dangerous and should be controlled, this study shows that we may need to reconsider how and when we treat most mild fevers.” “FEDERATION OF AMERICAN SOCIETIES FOR EXPERIMENTAL BIOLOGY”

The Benefits of Fever (New York Times)

(From NYTimes: “In 1980, Dr. Barton D. Schmitt, a professor of pediatrics at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, published a now classic article about what he termed “fever phobia.” Many parents, he wrote, believed that untreated fevers might rise to critical levels and that even moderate and low-grade fevers could have serious neurological effects (that is, as parents we tend to suspect that our children’s brains may melt).”)

Benefits of Fever (Mercola) 

“Remember, the point of the fever is to stimulate the immune system and create an inhospitable environment for invading organisms, essentially turning up the heat high enough that the invading microbes cannot live. So anytime you lower a fever artificially you’re making your body more hospitable to the invading pathogens”

Host Response to the Dengue Virus

All you’d want to know about Dengue- From NATURE:

“Introduction- Dengue viral infections can result in a range of symptoms. Some people show no symptoms or just have mild signs of the disease, but others develop severe complications. How does the body respond to a dengue infection? What factors put some people at greater risk of developing severe dengue illnesses than other people?”

I’m curious to see how others feel about treating fevers; as long as there are no complications, do you let the fever run its course or do you think it should be lowered?

High Noon on the Equator June 21 2013 (Note shadow)

(I am feeling much stronger, and the ankle pain is getting better!  I even brushed paint on several boards yesterday, and my hands did not protest! If there’s sunshine over your head at high noon, mark the shadow! Happy June Solstice, everyone!) Z