As the capital witnesses a rise in cases of mosquito-borne infections, hospitals in the city have reported cases of co-infection — where the patient tests positive for two infections at the same time. According to the latest data released by the MCD, 71 cases of malaria, 55 cases of dengue and 108 cases of chikungunya have been reported up to July 1 this year.
Doctors have confirmed that there are cases wherein a patient has tested positive for both malaria and dengue, as well malaria and chikungunya. At least seven patients have tested positive for a co-infection at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, a senior hospital official confirmed. The latest case reported at the Delhi hospital is of a 30-year old man, who came with the most common symptoms of chikungunya — fever and joint pain.
“When he was examined, the patient tested positive for chikungunya. Since there is no treatment for chikungunya, we treated the symptoms and advised the patient to drink fluids to avoid dehydration,” Dr Atul Gogia, Consultant, Department of Medicine, Sir Gangaram Hospital, said. However, doctors said the symptoms of fever and chills did not abate. “We tested the patient for malaria and it came back positive,” the doctor said.
In another case, a 22-year man who was referred to Sir Gangaram Hospital had a reduced platelet count — a symptom of dengue. “The patient had high grade fever and low platelet count. When examined, he tested positive for dengue. But the fever continued. We later tested for malaria and it was positive,” Dr Gogia said.
The doctor said patients with co-infections have to be correctly diagnosed to ensure no further complications arise. “In dengue and chikungunya, one can only treat the symptoms. There is no specific treatment. However, when the patient has dengue and malaria, it should be ensured that malaria is diagnosed first. Since symptoms of malaria mimic those of dengue, it remains undiagnosed in most cases. Hence, diagnosis of malaria is most important as the infection is treatable unlike dengue and chikungunya,” Dr Gogia said.
Last year, AIIMS had confirmed the presence of co-infections with chikungunya — 9.4 per cent of patients had both dengue and chikungunya, while 3 per cent had malaria and chikungunya. Chikungunya and dengue are mosquito-borne viral infections with symptoms such as fever, rashes and joint pain. The causative organism, chikungunya virus, is transmitted to humans by the aedes aegypti mosquito. Malaria, however, is a mosquito-borne infection caused by parasitic protozoans and is commonly transmitted by an infected female anopheles mosquito.