With the onset of the monsoon season every year, there is an increased risk of vector-borne diseases like dengue and malaria. Considering that India is already battling with Coronavirus infections on a huge scale, the addition of other transmissions can be problematic, and as all three infections have more or less the same symptoms. Thus, preventing such situations, especially co-infections, becomes imperative.
According to Dr Maheshkumar M Lakhe, Consultant – Internal Medicine and Infectious Disease, Columbia Asia Hospital, Pune, if co-infection can be prevented, patients can be segregated and treated more expeditiously. This will also significantly reduce the chances of wrong treatment.
It is to note that common symptoms of dengue include high fever, severe headache, muscle and joint pain, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Malaria includes headaches, shivering, fever, vomiting and occasional seizures along with sweats and fatigue. Ironically, Covid-19 also has similar symptoms along with coughs. Covid-19 patients also experience respiratory disorders and loss of smell and taste. They all can be life-threatening if not treated properly. Also, all three infections share similar clinical and laboratory characteristics.
Therefore, measures need to be taken to avert a coinfection. The co-occurrence and co-infection among the three infections can prove to be an additional burden on the already beleaguered healthcare infrastructure of the country. The resources are scarce along with tremendous pressure on treating the Coronavirus infected patients. Testing labs are also going to be adversely affected.
The report by The Indian Express noted that the district and state authorities are following a roadmap that ensures that the outbreak of malaria and dengue can be curbed. Apart from this, affordable and rapid testing becomes a prerequisite so that dengue, malaria, SARS-COVID-19 infections can be distinguished. Healthcare facilities will have to diagnose patients for all possible infections due to overlapping symptoms.
During the monsoon, the numbers for dengue and malaria can peak. Therefore, the government authorities need to take strong measures that ensure effective mosquito vector control strategies along with sufficient hospital and diagnostic facilities. Meanwhile, people also need to religiously follow Covid-appropriate behaviour and all general guidelines to prevent any kind of infection. While masks are crucial for Covid-19 prevention, people need to stop the accumulation of freshwater and wear clothes that cover arms and legs, so that infections caused by mosquitoes can be reduced.
Use of mosquito nets and repellents is important. People should also have screens on windows and doors, and cover water containers tightly using a lid, so that the breeding of mosquitoes can be prevented.