Even for children, doctors say that symptoms for COVID-19 and dengue can be of a similar nature, leading to confusion.

Sanitation worker fumigating an open areaRepresentational image/PTI
news COVID-19 Sunday, June 27, 2021 - 17:11

The recent rains In Bengaluru amid the pandemic has triggered a complex situation for the city’s doctors with a sudden increase in dengue cases including among children. Dr Ranganath, a senior official and community medicine specialist at Bengaluru’s Victoria Hospital, said that with outpatient departments shut-in government hospitals, those dependent on government setups are at a great disadvantage. “Earlier, in the pre-pandemic era, we would see as many as a thousand OPD patients, but now everything is shut because of COVID-19. So we are coming to know of patients who are confused after they have a fever,” he said, “Hopefully we can begin OPD operations again shortly so that patients can get relief.”

Dr Shalini Joshi, a senior consultant for Internal Medicine at Fortis Hospital, said, “We all have been living in very difficult times with the COVID-19 pandemic for the past 18 months. It is important to pay attention to your symptoms whether it is fever, cough, cold, body pain or headache. It could be confusing in these pandemic times because dengue can also give rise to fever, body pain, myalgias, joint pain, and headache.” 

She said every year, there is a surge in dengue cases due to mosquitoes in the rainy season and therefore it is very important to keep surroundings hygienic and discard all stagnant water which is the breeding ground for mosquitoes. “We have started seeing dengue positive cases in this monsoon season but numbers are less as compared to pre-COVID-19 times,” she said. She added, “It is recommended to consult a doctor and get tested for Dengue as well along with other blood tests as advised by the physician.”

Similarly, Dr Srikanta JT, who is a paediatric pulmonology and sleep medicine specialist at Aster CMI Hospital, said dengue can be wrongly diagnosed as COVID-19 or vice-versa. “Dengue is a seasonal vector-borne disease and increases during and after the monsoon, whereas COVID-19, as we know, has come in waves. But now that we are looking at an impending 3rd wave, dengue can be wrongly diagnosed as COVID-19 or vice-versa,” he said. He added, “And most importantly multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MISC) in children can be mistaken for dengue and vice-versa although there are key differences.”

He said firstly dengue is an endemic disease meaning a lot of them can come from the same area. Secondly, children with dengue don't usually have coughs, colds and nose blocks. Thirdly, dengue fever can either have biphasic fever or fever that disappears after five days with petechies and sometimes shock which usually doesn't happen in COVID-19 and is sometimes mistaken for MISC. “And lastly, any child who comes down with fever for more than three days, dengue has to be one of the working differentials,” he added. 

Meanwhile, the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike said that they are trying to keep dengue cases at a check and the situation is not of any severe concern. “The spraying programs for insecticides are going on. Doctors should be able to easily treat dengue clinically without complications in most cases. If it is a combination of COVID-19 and dengue, it is a complication and the doctor has to deal with it like any other complication,” Dr Murali, Medical Officer at RR Nagar COVID-19 War Room, said.

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