Dengue fever caused death

Toxicology and pathology tests have confirmed that dengue hemorrhagic fever claimed the life of a man that died at the Cayman Islands Hospital in the early hours of 9 January (Caymanian Compass 11 February).

He was Howard Anthony Morrison, 38, a Jamaican national, self-employed in the construction industry.

Mr. Morrison, who was also know to friends as ‘Money Gram’, is thought to have contracted dengue fever on a trip to Jamaica but did not develop symptoms until after returning to Cayman on 3 January.

He then waited five days before seeking medical treatment, eventually presenting at the hospital in a critical condition.

Mr. Morrison went into cardiac arrest within minutes of arriving at the hospital and later died.

On Thursday his wife, Leasa Morrison, paid a heart-felt tribute to her husband and warned others to seek urgent medical attention if they develop any of the symptoms associated with dengue fever.

‘Howard was loving, caring and generous,’ she said. ‘He would give you his last penny.

‘He was always calm and always tried to discourage arguments; even with me. He was always the person to get in the middle.’

The reports found Mr. Morrison died of dengue hemorrhagic fever and contributory dengue shock fever.

Dengue hemorrhagic fever is a severe form of dengue fever that is usually only contracted by someone that has previously been infected with a different strand of dengue fever. The pathology report found antibodies showing Mr. Morrison had previously had the tropical disease.

Mrs. Morrison said she had urged her husband to go to the doctor from Friday, 4 January, when he developed symptoms, but he kept making excuses.

‘He thought he could just sweat it out,’ she said. ‘He didn’t like going to doctors.’

On Saturday 5 January, Mr. Morrison told his wife he had visited the hospital that day and received a shot, after she again urged him to get help.

But Mr. Morrison never visited the hospital. ‘He didn’t go; he was trying to ease my fears,’ she said.

Over the weekend, Mr. Morrison looked exhausted and developed a fever that soared to as high as 103.7 °F, Mrs Morrison explained.

Things got worse Monday; Mr. Morrison was vomiting blood.

‘Every day I kept saying to him, ‘you need to go to the doctor; you’re not right’ but he just kept saying he would be OK.’

On Tuesday morning Mr. Morrison complained of being cold. He had a headache, a backache and a fever. He was short of breath and complained that everything he tried to eat tasted bitter.

Mrs. Morrison finally convinced her husband he needed to go to the hospital late Tuesday night, but by then it was too late.

Director of Public Health, Dr. Kiran Kumar, has previously explained that dengue fever is not usually fatal but dengue hemorrhagic fever can be.

Mr. Kumar explained that dengue hemorrhagic fever can be treated if medical attention is sought early, and urged anyone with dengue fever like symptoms to seek medical attention.

Mr. Morrison is one of two people to test positive for dengue fever in the Cayman Islands this year.

But there remains no evidence of dengue fever being transmitted locally, with both patients having recently returned from countries where dengue fever is endemic.

While the disease is not endemic to Cayman, Hurricane Ivan spawned a 1,300 per cent increase in the population of Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, a potential dengue fever vector.

Symptoms of dengue fever include a sudden onset of fever with severe headache, muscle and joint pains, four to seven days after the bite of an infected mosquito.

Patients may also develop nausea, vomiting and bright red rashes on their chest, arms and face.

In milder cases the disease can be misdiagnosed as common flu because of similar symptoms.

Mr. Morrison’s funeral was due to take place Sunday in St. Andrew, Jamaica. He leaves behind four children and three step-children.