Delhi: AIIMS grapples with case of both Covid and dengue

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Written by Astha Saxena
| New Delhi |

Updated: September 15, 2020 12:43:54 pm





coronavirus latest updates, delhi coronavirus latest updates, delhi coronavirus aiims, coronavirus symptoms, aiims coronavirus, delhi city news“We also suspected dengue as she had fever, muscle and joint pain, and low platelet count. She turned out to be positive for dengue NS1 antigen. Malaria test for PF and PV were negative,” said Dr Ashutosh Biswas, professor of medicine, AIIMS.

As Delhi continues to battle Covid-19, a case of co-infection with dengue is throwing up a health challenge for doctors due to overlapping initial symptoms and laboratory parameters of both diseases. In one such case, a 30-year-old woman who tested positive for Covid and dengue was successfully treated at AIIMS.

On August 23, the woman came to the hospital’s medical emergency with moderate grade fever, chills, headache, body pain, joint pain, and fatigue. However, she did not show any respiratory symptoms such as sore throat, cough and breathlessness.

Doctors found that her platelet count was low. As she also had fever, a Covid test was performed which returned positive.

“We also suspected dengue as she had fever, muscle and joint pain, and low platelet count. She turned out to be positive for dengue NS1 antigen. Malaria test for PF and PV were negative,” said Dr Ashutosh Biswas, professor of medicine, AIIMS.

While most dengue cases throw up a negative test in 5-7 days, the woman was positive until the 10th day of illness. “This is an unusual finding in this case. The reason is not clear as to why the infectivity period of dengue (NS1+ve) is increased in the presence of Covid-19 infection in an individual,” said Dr Biswas.

The patient was discharged after nine days of hospital stay.

Fifty-three dengue patients were admitted to AIIMS till September this year, of which 42 were brought post the Covid outbreak. However, only one was found to have a co-infection. In Delhi, 131 cases of dengue and 114 cases of malaria have been reported so far.

“This is a new experience and we expect that dengue is also going to have a similar kind of pathogenesis like Covid. In dengue and Covid-19, almost 80% of patients are asymptomatic. With a change in the season, the number of dengue and Covid cases may increase, and that can be a cause of worry. Both viruses cause cytokine storm and if infected with both, the severity of the illness will increase,” added Dr Biswas.

According to experts, both viral diseases don’t have any antivirals drugs or vaccine, and, therefore, it is extremely important to look after management of such patients. False positivity is also reported to be high among co-infection cases, which may create a diagnostic challenge.

“If a dengue patient is also infected with Covid-19, the mortality rate may be high. Patient management has to be planned well… Many hospitals in Delhi are Covid-only… the government will have to plan this,” he said.

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