New Delhi: With the onset of monsoon season vector-borne diseases like dengue and malaria are rising but with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and similar symptoms that are seen in the three diseases, people are confused about how to figure out their cause of trouble. Fever, headaches, body aches and fatigue are experienced in all three diseases.
"A virus is responsible for causing both COVID-19 and Dengue, while a parasite (Protozoa) is the cause behind the Malaria disease. All the conditions have specific similar symptoms, which might confuse one on how to differentiate among the three,” shares Dr Sandeep B. Gore, Director-Emergency Medicine, Fortis Hospital, Mulund.
HOW TO DIFFERENTIATE COVID-19 FROM DENGUE AND MALARIA
Loss of taste and smell, heaviness in the chest, cough, and difficulty in breathing are symptoms that are distinct to COVID-19 infection.
“One of the significant symptoms of COVID-19 is the loss of taste and smell. This is not the case for either Dengue or Malaria,” shares Dr Gore.
He further adds, “COVID-19 is a respiratory illness, shortness of breath, uncomfortable chest pain are not generally present in a patient suffering from Malaria or Dengue”.
He however insists it is best to visit a doctor and get yourself tested at the earliest.
Dr Sudha Menon, Director of Internal Medicine, Fortis Hospital, Bannerghatta Road, Bengaluru explains, “Covid symptoms include cough, cold, sore throat, loss of smell and taste and breathlessness. Dengue can cause nausea, bitter taste, higher fever, eye pain and rashes. Malaria causes severe chills, high grade fever and profuse sweating intermittently.”
HOW CAN COVID-19, DENGUE AND MALARIA SPREAD?
The transmission of COVID-19 is airborne and thus is caused by other humans, unlike Dengue and Malaria that are caused by mosquito bites.
“SARS-CoV-2 spreads mainly through respiratory droplets, which may come out while talking, sneezing, and coughing. On the other hand, Dengue is caused by 4 different types of viruses, and it infects a person when an infected Aedes mosquito (mostly Aedes Aegypti) bites them. When an infected female Anopheles mosquito bites a person, they contract Malaria,” shares Dr Paritosh Baghel, Senior Consultant-Internal Medicine, SL Raheja Hospital Mahim.
HOW ARE THEY TREATED?
“For COVID-19 there are specific antiviral drugs that are used. In some instances, doctors use Heparin to treat a COVID patient and prevent embolism,” explains Dr Baghel.
He further shares that when suffering with Dengue, a patient may need platelet transfusion if the count has fallen alarmingly low. Whereas patients with Malaria require antimalarial drugs. They may also require platelet transfusion if the need arises. Thus, the treatment of such patients is quite tricky and requires a balanced approach with quick diagnosis and judgment.
TIPS TO STAY SAFE FROM INFECTIONS THIS MONSOON
To avoid COVID-19:
- Follow safety protocols,
- Wear masks when out in public,
- Maintain physical distancing.
To prevent Dengue and Malaria:
- Stay away from stagnant water,
- Apply mosquito repellents when going out
- Don’t let water accumulate in buckets, plant pots, or anywhere in your home, as it serves as a breeding ground for mosquitoes.
- Lastly, eat home-cooked fresh meals with fruits and vegetables to boost your immunity