Confusion in the time of coronavirus

Apr 27, 2020 | 1 comment

I found out through Facebook. On a recent Friday evening, I was scrolling through posts and noticed one from a young friend who lives in the U.S., who wrote,

“Friends, please send love and healing thoughts. My husband has a high fever, 102 degrees with aches and he’s on his way to the clinic. I am really worried.”

I could hear her voice in my head, a tone nothing like I’d heard from her before.

Her post garnered many comments, friends posting supportive statements, sending prayers, and offers of help.

The next post came two hours later. My friend’s husband was home from the clinic after being tested for Covid-19, but since the test results weren’t available for five to eight days, he was quarantined in one of the bedrooms.

The next day she posted that her husband was still running a high fever, and she and the kids were okay, but in need of some supplies, maybe some easy to re-heat meals and disinfecting cleaning sprays.

Three days later she posted a video, thanking everyone for their help, but unfortunately, her husband was no better — still fighting a high fever, coughing, and weak. That morning his fever had dropped just briefly, giving them some hope, but then it soared back up again.

She said ruefully, “I guess that is how this thing goes — we think that he was exposed when he visited the wellness clinic for a skin rash that wasn’t clearing up. But they sent him to a different clinic because he had a cough — and that is where all the Covid cases are. And it was six days after visiting that clinic that he came down with the symptoms. We think that is where the exposure happened.

“But we still haven’t gotten the Covid test results back yet. We’re worried — he’s now had three days of high fever and fatigue and that cough. And although it’s tough being apart from our friends, and I know many are feeling so alone, one thing I am very grateful for is your support and love.”

It wasn’t until three days later that my friend posted again, very early in the morning. Bad news — her husband was far worse. He now had a full-body rash along with the cough and high fever.

Late that same evening she posted again. Her husband was hospitalized, and the test for Covid had finally come back — negative. But the doctors ordered another test, because his symptoms were consistent with the coronavirus, and because the tests have a 30 percent false-negative rate. They had admitted him into the hospital’s Covid unit, but when the second Covid test also came back negative, they had to keep looking for a diagnosis.

At last, the doctors confirmed that what my friend’s husband was suffering from was a serious multi-systemic response called DRESS syndrome — drug rash with eosinophilia and systemic symptoms. His severe and life-threatening symptoms were not Covid, it was a delayed reaction to the antibiotic he had been prescribed more than 10 days previously for that pesky skin rash.

She posted again, “In the end, my husband was tested three times for Covid and each test was negative. He had a severe drug reaction to an antibiotic he had been prescribed but this connection was missed for five days because he had all the symptoms of the coronavirus.

“His outcomes here could have been so much different had we not had access to a hospital that was still functioning: beds, doctors, testing, staff, and all the rest. He has received excellent and thorough care at the University Hospital and that is because all of you have been staying home. So thank you for that too.

“All the love to everyone. Hopefully, he will be discharged soon to heal at home.”


Food, Nutrition, and Your Health columnist Susan Burke March moved to Cuenca after 35 years as a Registered and Licensed Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator in the United States. She currently serves as the Country Representative from Ecuador for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. 

Susan helps people attain better weight and health, and reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and other conditions that can be improved with smart lifestyle modifications.

Susan is offering “Free” 20-minute consultations for just a $15 donation to one of the important foundations here in Cuenca. It’s a perfect time to address issues such as cooking at home, strategies for weight loss, or boosting your immunity by improving your diet.

Contact her at

Susan Burke March

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