Aussie tourist's 'scary' Bali warning after contracting deadly disease

Sydney woman Marley, 24, told Yahoo she wouldn't wish dengue fever on any person.

Marley lies in a Bali hospital bed rubbing her eye looking physically unwell after contracting dengue fever (left). She shows her bloodshot eye to the camera (right).
Sydney woman Marley spent eight days in a Bali hospital after contracting dengue fever at the end of last month. Source: Supplied

Aussies heading to Indonesia during the upcoming tourist high season are being warned of a sudden surge of dengue fever cases in the country. Sydney woman Marley has just returned home after becoming one of the many travellers to have contracted the virus in recent months.

The 24-year-old told Yahoo News she spent eight days in a Bali hospital, admitting she had no choice but to "stay calm" during the "scary" health experience as she was travelling solo. "I had a lot of body aches, my joints were really sore which was weird. And then I was sweating but really cold, which was crazy," the 24-year-old said, adding a local doctor confirmed she had contracted the virus from a mosquito bite.

After being diagnosed, physicians told Marley they needed to move her from Gili Trawangan to Bali to adequately monitor her health, but the tourist was forced to hold off as she hadn't heard back from her insurance company.

After receiving confirmation that her medical costs would indeed be covered, she was taken on a three-hour boat and ambulance journey between islands.

"The doctors organised an ambulance boat to get me there and then I got in an ambulance to get to hospital... [the sickness] came a lot in waves, the fever and chills," she said. "It was very scary. I have never been in an ambulance or anything before, I haven't really had any health problems when I've been overseas."

Marley lies in hospital bed (left) and was taken on a boat at night to Bali (right).
The Sydney woman was transported from Gili Trawangan to Bali via boat. Source: Supplied

Her severe dehydration and low white blood cell count — a result of her immune system being compromised — caused her gums to bleed and her eyes to become bloodshot, with Marley calling her symptoms "feral".

There is no treatment for dengue fever but patients frequently need to be monitored in hospital because they become severely dehydrated. Often medical staff will connect patients to IV drips and encourage rest until the fever passes.

There is a vaccine, which Marley got before her travels, but the best preventative measure is to use "lots and lots" of insect repellent — something the Aussie was slack on.

"Be really vigilant with with your mozzie repellent, definitely wear a lot of bug spray... I didn't use it which was so stupid," she admitted. "Wearing long, flowy clothes and avoiding stagnant bodies of water helps too, there's always heaps of mosquitos out."

"I wouldn't wish dengue on any person ever," she said.

There has been over 60,000 cases of dengue fever reported in Indonesia so far in 2024. The WA Health Department has issued a warning to travellers heading overseas after 138 of the state's cases recorded this year were acquired in the country.

While most people experience mild or no symptoms, one in 20 develop severe dengue which can result in shock, internal bleeding and even death, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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