As heavy downpour batters Mumbai, dengue cases have been rising sharply across the city, doctors said. The city’s Municipal body claimed that only eight patients were diagnosed between July 1 and 11.
While the city fights monsoon woes, mosquito-borne diseases are an added complication this monsoon. The Times of India quoted Mumbai-based doctors saying that several dengue patients are coming with symptoms of cold, cough and low oxygen levels that are now synonymous with Covid-19.
Infectious diseases specialist Dr Om Srivastava told TOI that people associated dengue with a drop in white blood cells and platelets, but “we now have dengue patients with cough, cold and lower respiratory ailments”.
Doctors are skeptical and added that it isn’t as if dengue’s symptoms have changed but Covid has changed us. “People have become very observant, especially with cough, cough and blood oxygen levels. All these symptoms are part of most viral fever, be it Covid or dengue,” Dr Gautam Bhansali from Bombay Hospital near New Marine Lines said.
In 2019, 920 dengue cases and three deaths were reported. The numbers dropped to 129 cases and three deaths in 2020. In 2021, 74 cases have been reported so far.
Meanwhile, Dr Mandar Kubal from Wockhardt Hospital, Mumbai Central, told TOI that the worst manifestation of dengue is acute respiratory distress syndrome. Medical fraternity has been witnessing dengue with lung involvement and with monsoon, doctors should suspect dengue in patients who come in with breathlessness, not just Covid, he said.
There is an “overlap” in symptoms between Covid-19 and dengue that is posing a challenge, Dr S P Kalantri from Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences, Wardha said.
Typically, dengue patients came in with high fever and backache, but they now have a third symptom: Cough and hypoxia. Many of them in our hospital need mechanical ventilators, he further told TOI.
However, due to similar symptoms, doctors first conduct a Covid-19 test first and only after the patient’s RT-PCR report comes negative, they do a dengue test. In most hospitals and clinics, doctors advise patients to first undergo the RT-PCR test to rule out Covid-19.
Dr Pratit Samdani said three out of every 10 dengue cases need hospitalisation. “The patients come with high liver enzymes and dehydration,” he said.
Mosquito-borne diseases- dengue, malaria, jaundice and typhoid all surge in cities such as Mumbai especially during monsoon season.