Dengue Fever and the Legend of Nimrod

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According to the Centers for Disease Control, over 100 million people a year are infected with Dengue fever.  The flu-like illness causes high fevers, searing myalgia (muscle pain) and arthralgia (joint pain), and blood seeping through the pores.  These symptoms sometimes progress to massive bleeding, shock, and death (dengue shock syndrome, or DSS).

Denue Fever virus is borne by the Aedes Aegypti mosquito and related to West Nile fever and yellow fever.  Despite being primarily a tropical and sub-tropical disease, Dengue Fever periodically sickens people in the United States.

The word dengue may have come from ka-dinga pepoa Swahili phrases that translates to “cramp-like seizure caused by an evil spirit,” or “the devil’s disease.”  The first recorded case of probable dengue fever comes from China during the Jin Dynasty (265–420 AD), and refers to a “water poison” associated with flying insects.

Dengue epidemics occurred almost simultaneously in Asia, Africa, and North America in the late 18th century.  Benjamin Rush confirmed the first case in 1789 and coined the disease “breakbone fever” because of the severe pain it caused.

Dengue Fever may, however,  date back over 2,000 years.  According to the legend of Nimrod, Allah sent a mosquito to humble the arrogant leader.  The mosquito entered Nimrod’s brain through Nimrod’s nose, where  — depending on whose version you want to believe — it either began to eat his brain or to buzz incessantly.

The mosquito caused Nimrod severe pain and headaches.  Unable to stand it, Nimrod ordered his servants to beat him violently to distract him, or to split his skull open so the mosquito could fly away (again, depending on the version).

Either way, Nimrod died.

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