Covid-19 or dengue fever: How to identify from symptoms?

Overlapping symptoms of COVID 19 and Dengue are confusing doctors over the diagnosis of the patient as the cases of viral infections, dengue are on rise these days. (Nandan Dave)

As dengue cases are rising across the national capital, many people with the viral infection are showing symptoms that are similar to COVID-19. This is causing great confusion in patients as well as among doctors about the exact diagnosis.

With the onset of monsoon, cases of vector-borne disease are increasing phenomenally. The mosquito which is the carrier of this disease finds a favorable situation for breeding in stable water in residential areas. Hence, cases are usually high between July and November, sometimes even in December.

What are the overlapping symptoms of COVID and dengue fever?

Symptoms of Dengue include high fever, headache, rash, and muscle and joint pain, which bear significant resemblance to that of COVID-19 infection. COVID-19 symptoms include fever, chills, muscle or body aches, fatigue, and headache among others. In such cases, it gets difficult for the doctors to figure out whether the person is COVID positive or not.

“Covid cases are declining right now, but the virus is still there. I am still seeing Covid cases in my OPD. In the last 3-4 days, two cases were detected in OPD and one later in an ICU. However, on average , dengue infection is on the rise right now,” said Dr Suranjit Chatterjee, a senior consultant at Apollo Hospitals.

“There are a few overlapping symptoms when it comes to both dengue and Covid, such as fever, body aches, and headache, and in such cases diagnosis cannot be that black and white. So, we are prescribing both Covid and dengue tests to ascertain the exact infection. In fact, in some cases, even malaria and typhoid tests are also being done,” informed Dr Suranjit Chatterjee.

How to know whether it is COVID or dengue fever?

There is a catch for the doctors in between the lines of the symptoms reported by patients. Dr. Suranjit Chatterjee says that if a person is experiencing more sore throat and cough without high fever, then there are chances that he is contracted with COVID-19 virus.

In cases where doctors can differentiate by symptoms, they do not prescribe a dengue test for the patient.

Over the past few days, doctors of government, as well as private hospitals, have observed a spike in the footfall of dengue patients in OPDs. According to doctors, most of them are complaining of fever, cough, sore throat, and body ache or headache and sometimes both.

The national capital’s largest hospital, Lok Nayak Jai Prakash (LNJP) Hospital, which is also the city’s main COVID 19 facility is also reporting dengue cases. Most of the patients are admitted after their platelets level drop below the normal range.

Dengue fever can cause a fall in white blood cells and platelet counts. In the body of a healthy person, platelet count generally remains at a range of 1.5 to 4 lakes. However, the number can reduce to as low as 20,000 to 40,000 in the case of dengue patients.

“Yes, rising dengue cases are making diagnosis difficult now. Earlier, we would analyze symptoms and Covid test would be prescribed if they had a fever or other matching symptoms. Now not only patients but even doctors are confused about the exact ailment due to their overlapping symptoms,” a senior doctor at the hospital told PTI.

According to Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) data, around 520 dengue cases have been reported in Delhi till 21 September. Out of these 520 cases, 281 have been reported in September only. Along with this, there was a rise in cases of other diseases as well. The city reported 106 cases of malaria and 20 cases of chikungunya in the same period. One of the possible reasons for the spike in these cases is the incessant rainfall in the city.

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