While India is concentrating on its fight against the novel coronavirus, many health experts are concerned about the dengue season as it has set in across large parts of India with the onset of the monsoon.
The mosquito-borne disease will make the situation worse for the common man already facing the pandemic as both the dengue and COVID-19 have overlapping symptoms.
Senior Dr Anshuman Kumar, one of the most popular cancer surgeons in India, spoke to HealthWire about the symptoms of both the disease and how to differentiate between them.
“First we should understand that dengue is a mosquito-borne disease while COVID-19 is human to the human transmission without any involvement of vector,” said Dr Anshuman Kumar and added that there is a seasonal variation in the former but nothing of that sort has been observed in the latter since the time of onset.
He explained that fever, sore throat, and malaise are some of the common symptoms of dengue and COVID-19. But there are some other symptoms of the novel coronavirus which can help differentiate between the two diseases and that are – loss of taste and loss of smell or anosmia.
“Other atypical symptoms of COVID-19 include gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms which cause problems related to stomachs such as diarrhoea, crampy abdominal pain, and block of blood vessels which may lead to blackening of the skin, fingernails, and toes. COVID-19 may also cause stroke due to blockage of blood vessels. When COVID-19 gets complicated or severe, it may cause pneumonia,” Dr Kumar said.
“We have not seen platelets dropping in case of COVID-19. In a very advanced stage when the patient is on a ventilator, platelets may drop but it is not directly related to COVID-19,” he added.
But, dengue patients never suffer from pneumonia unless they get a secondary infection. In dengue, the main problem is that platelets drop.
The doctor also highlighted that the mortality rate in dengue is less than COVID-19 and similarly the recovery rate is also fast in dengue.
Dr Kumar said the one similarity between the two diseases, when it comes to treatment, is that there is no known specific or established treatment for both the disease as of now.
“We only provide supportive treatment. For example, in dengue, we transfuse platelets if it drops, and in case of COVID-19 if someone is having fever we give medicines for that or we give oxygen if the requirement arises. There is no established treatment till date,” he said.
Seasonal Flu and COVID-19
“Most common presentation of COVID-19 and seasonal flu are the same – sore throat, mild fever, and cough. But seasonal flu usually lasts for 72 hours which is not common in COVID-19 as it usually gets delayed up to 5 days and then recovery starts. This is why there’s a procedure of the second test after 5 days in COVID-19,” he said.
Dr Kumar said that it is always advisable to get tested on clinician discretion as they will be in a better position to tell you.