Ex-ski champion dies of dengue fever while house-sitting in Mexico, family says

A champion skier has died after contracting a mosquito-borne illness while housesitting for a friend in Mexico, her family said.

Philippa “Pip” Greig, of New Zealand, was 36, and died last Saturday in Puerto Vallarta, according to reports.

Greig’s father told the New Zealand Herald that his daughter had contracted dengue fever, and had spent several days feeling unwell before neighbors took her to the hospital by boat. He said staff spent 40 minutes performing CPR on his daughter, but she could not be revived.

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“It’s going to take time to work through it all, but we’re so appreciative of all the support that we’re getting,” Rob Greig told the news outlet.

Greig said that the town she had been staying in was also shocked by the news of his daughter’s death and that there are calls to spray the whole village.

Dengue viruses are spread to people through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito, and is common in more than 100 countries around the world, according to the Centers for the Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). About 1 in 4 people infected with dengue will get sick, with symptoms ranging from mild to severe and possibly becoming life-threatening within a few hours of getting sick.

Mild cases typically present with nausea, vomiting, rash, aches and pains, but they will resolve within two to seven days. There is no specific medication for the virus, but symptoms can be managed by a health care provider. About 1 in 20 people who get sick with dengue will develop a severe illness, which can cause shock, internal bleeding and death.

Infants and pregnant women are most at-risk for developing severe dengue, which typically presents 24-48 hours after a fever has gone away. Stomach pain or tenderness, vomiting, bleeding from the nose or gums, vomiting blood or blood in stool and feeling tired, restless or irritable are potential signs of severe illness.

“It’s going to take time to work through it all, but we’re so appreciated of all the support that we’re getting.”

— Rob Greig, father of Philippa “Pip” Greig

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Rob Greig told the Otago Daily Times that a doctor walked him and his wife Roz through what was happening to his daughter before apologizing.

“We said, ‘what are you apologizing for?’” he told the news outlet. “’I’m apologizing because she didn’t make it.’ That’s when the news struck and we suddenly realized she wasn’t with us anymore.”

The couple had been traveling and had plans to meet up with Pip in Mexico over the next two weeks. He said the outpouring support they’ve received and the cooperation between the officials in Mexico and New Zealand has helped them in their grief.

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“Literally hundreds of people have come through to us… she means so much to so many people,” he told the Otago Daily Times.