Dengue Durana

Maria Durana

Maria Durana is not a typical poster child for disease, but she has dengue fever. Today, she became a statistic, one of 350 cases of dengue fever reported in Ahmedabad, many in elite technical colleges that have become breeding grounds for the mosquitoes that carry the virus. There have been 5 reported deaths.

Wikipedia description of dengue fever:

Dengue and dengue haemorrhagic fever (DHF) are acute febrile diseases, found in the tropics, with a geographical spread similar to malaria. Caused by one of four closely related virus serotypes of the genus Flavivirus, family Flaviviridae, each serotype is sufficiently different that there is no cross-protection and epidemics caused by multiple serotypes (hyperendemicity) can occur. Dengue is transmitted to humans by the mosquito Aedes aegypti (rarely Aedes albopictus).

The disease is manifested by a sudden onset of fever, with severe headache, joint and muscular pains (myalgias and arthralgias—severe pain gives it the name break-bone fever) and rashes; the dengue rash is characteristically bright red petechia and usually appears first on the lower limbs and the chest – in some patients, it spreads to cover most of the body. There may also be gastritis with some combination of associated abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea.

Maria came down with dengue fever the night Mark and I arrived in Ahmedabad (October 11). The next day, she came to the Manav Sadhna office despite her fever, to continue work on the opening of the Seva Cafe, before she collapsed. The day after that, Jayeshbhai sent a car to bring her “home”, where Mark and I and initially, Nipun and Guri, have been staying, and where John has been recovering ever since we all convinced him to leave Delhi and return to Ahmedabad. Thanks to Jayeshbhai and Anarben‘s quick intervention, with home visits by doctors to take daily blood tests, and personal caregivers to bring juice and other fluids every couple of hours, Maria is recovering well. Dengue was suspected even before the definitive test detected the virus, so she was properly cared for and medicated to help increase her blood platelet count, which had fallen to a third of normal. Had she been left to her own devices, she would have continued to try and work to full capacity to finish the projects she had taken on.

We first met Maria in February 2005 when we were working in Chennai and Pondicherry on the tsunami information portal. Maria joined a group of 10 volunteers from Manav Sadhna who came to help in the relief efforts. They stayed in a village 60 kilometers from Pondicherry for 10 days, sleeping on the temple floor, cleaning up the village and engaging the children and adults in games, community dinners and singing and dancing. Maria let the sanitation efforts with a chant of “Clean up, Clean up” quickly taken up by the children.

Maria is in India on a Fulbright Fellowship to research construction in disaster areas. She is currently in Ahmedabad working with Manav Sadhna on the construction of a community center in the Rampir no Tekro, the largest slum in Gujarat. Before this, she had interned with the architecture firm that designed the community center, giving her the opportunity to become involved in the project from both sides – the builder and the community. This is Maria’s second stint with Manav Sadhna. The first was in 2001, helping to construct housing in Kachchh after the devastating earthquake in the region. Jayeshbhai and Anarben and everyone who has had the privilege of meeting Maria have come to rely on her dedication, skills, good humour, and love.

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2 Responses to “Dengue Durana”


  1. 1 Jerusca February 7, 2007 at 5:55 am

    Hi !!

    Well first of all I would like to tell you that I’m from Peru, I’m studying medicine at the university. I’m working with my community about “How to prevent dengue” it’s a hard work but I think that the best way to avoid this disease is giving some information about it to the people.

    On the other hand I appreciate the work that you are doing. Carry on with that beautiful work. God Bless you so much !!

    PD If I have some grammatical mistakes .. I’m sorry .. I’ m trying to improve my English 🙂

  2. 2 yoomilee February 7, 2007 at 9:21 am

    Dear Jerusca,

    Thank you for your kind words on our work.

    You also are doing great work to spread the word about the prevention of dengue in Peru. I would like to let you know about an organization in Brazil called Ecovec which has developed a prevention system for dengue. I saw their display at the Tech Awards in San Jose, U.S.A. You can read more about their work here: http://www.techawards.org/laureates/stories/index.php?id=126

    P.S. Your English is perfect!


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