Dengue fever possible cause of death of St. John woman

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A St. John woman who was transferred last week to a Miami hospital with possible dengue fever symptoms died there Aug. 20 from complications, her husband said.

Mark Campion said Thursday that doctors suspected his wife — Sandra Brown — had dengue fever, although he did not know whether that had been confirmed through testing.

V.I. Health Department epidemiologist Eugene Tull said earlier this week that he had no information about a possible death from dengue fever.

“I don’t know anything about that. I don’t have any word from the hospital or any reports,” he said.

Health Department spokeswoman Eunice Bedminster said Thursday that the department was not aware of any deaths from the territory’s dengue fever cases but had been investigating since receiving inquiries from reporters Monday. Tull had no new information Thursday, she said.

“We have no confirmation at this time,” she said.

Campion said Thursday that his understanding was that his 47-year-old wife had died from complications of dengue fever and heart failure, but that he had not yet received a death certificate.

She had been healthy before she became ill and did not have other medical conditions, Campion said.

Brown started having flu-like symptoms, including fever, chills and bone pain, about eight days before she died, he said.

Campion said Brown initially went to Myrah Keating Smith Community Health Center for treatment Aug. 17, then went back Aug. 18, when she was transferred to Schneider Hospital. On Aug. 19, she was transferred from Schneider Hospital to Jackson Memorial in Miami and died the following morning, he said.

Neither Jackson Memorial nor the Miami-Dade County Medical Ex­aminer’s Office would provide information about Brown’s illness and death.

Tull said earlier this week that so far this year, there have been eight confirmed, laboratory positive cases of dengue fever in the territory, three probable cases with lab results pending and 15 suspected cases. All of those were in the St. Thomas/St. John District, except for two of the suspected cases, which were on St. Croix, he said.

Dengue fever is transmitted to people by the bite of an infected mosquito. Public health officials say eliminating mosquito-breeding areas in and around the house is one key to preventing the spread of dengue fever, and they advise using mosquito repellent.

A private memorial service has been planned for Brown, Campion said.

“She was an awesome, awesome woman,” he said.


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