Wednesday, January 11, 2012

And now patients suffer from dengue and chikungunya at the same time

Syed Akbar
Hyderabad:  Cases of dengue-chikungunya co-infection are on the
rise causing concern to health planners and doctors. About three per
cent of dengue-chikungunya cases fall under the co-infection category
i.e. patient suffering from both the diseases at the same time.

Incidentally, mosquito, Aedes aegypti, transmits dengue and
chikungunya and the chances of co-infection are higher if the mosquito
carries the viruses of both the diseases. A detailed analysis of
dengue and chikungunya cases by the department of microbiology, Sri
Venkateswara Institute of Medical Sciences, Tirupati, has revealed
that the problem of co-infection is more pronounced in areas where
both viruses co-circulate.

In case of co-infection, doctors find it hard to diagnose the problem.
Though symptoms of these diseases are common, their outcome differs.
Tests for both dengue and chikungunya will help in finding whether a
patient is suffering from one disease or two.

Chikungunya is nonfatal while dengue may lead to severe health
complications including death. The common symptoms of both the
diseases include fever, joint and bone pain, nausea, vomiting,
headache, and fatigue.

A team of researchers comprising Usha Kalawat, Krishna K Sharma and G
Satishkumar Reddy analysed 331 samples for dengue and 170 samples for
chikungunya. About 12 per cent of dengue samples and 20 per cent of
chikungunya samples were positive. Only 72 samples were tested for the
presence of both dengue and chikungunya antibodies. About three per
cent of the samples tested positive for both the diseases.

“The chikungunya virus affected areas overlap with dengue
fever-endemic areas and provide opportunities for mosquitoes to become
infected with both the viruses,” they pointed out, adding that missing
of one is always plausible if diagnostic tests for both are not
performed and the presence of one does not rule out the other.

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