Difference Between Malaria and Dengue

Malaria and dengue are recurring public health issues in different parts of India and the world. Both are mosquito-borne diseases that are a major threat to global public health, according to the WHO. Did you know that there are around 100 to 400 million dengue infections per year, and there were nearly 229 million malaria cases worldwide in just 2019?

These diseases are most commonly found in tropical and sub-tropical countries like India, the Phillippines, and other Southeast Asian countries. Apart from wreaking havoc in different parts of the world, another common thread that connects these two diseases is that they are both mosquito-borne and more common during the monsoon and post-monsoon periods. Since they both cause fever as one of their prime symptoms, it is often confusing to differentiate between the two. Here’s some useful information that can help you distinguish between malaria and dengue.

The Similarity Between Malaria And Dengue

You can get malaria or dengue if you are bitten by the vector– a mosquito. Mosquitos act as a vehicle between an infected person and a healthy person. When a mosquito bites a person infected with malaria or dengue, it carries the microorganism causing the disease inside it. When it bites the next healthy person, this microorganism is transported into the person’s body leading to them developing the disease.

Malaria is caused by the bite of a female Anopheles mosquito whereas, dengue is caused by the bite of the Aedes mosquito.

Some common symptoms between the two diseases include:

  • Headaches
  • Fever
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Coughing
  • Weakness
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea

How Are Malaria And Dengue Different?

Though at the first look malaria and dengue may appear to be similar, they are very different at various levels. Here is how these two mosquito-borne diseases are different from each other:

  • The Causative Agent

The first differentiating factor between malaria and dengue is the causative agent. While malaria is caused by a parasite (protozoan) called Plasmodium, dengue is a viral disease caused by the Dengue Virus (DENV).

Tha malarial protozoan enters the body via the bite of the female anopheles and undergoes its life cycle in the liver of the individual. When this life cycle reaches the blood stage, this parasite affects the red blood cells of the human (called the host), and clinical signs and symptoms begin to appear.

  • Signs And Symptoms

Though many signs and symptoms of malaria and dengue are similar, some set them apart:

Malaria:

–  Chills

– Muscle pain and fatigue

– rapid breathing and heart rate

Dengue:

– Pain behind the eyes

– Rashes

–  Swollen glands

Severe cases of dengue  can result in the following symptoms:

– Blood in vomit, stool or urine

– Bruising under the skin

– Bleeding from nose and gums

– Irritability and restlessness

  • Incubation Period

The incubation period (the time between the mosquito’s bite to the appearance of symptoms) of the Plasmodium parasite can take anywhere between 7 to 30 days. This is also the time taken for the symptoms to appear.

The incubation period for dengue is shorter and it lies in the 4-to-10-day range.

  • Fever Duration

The fever in dengue lasts for 2 to 3 days and then disappears, only to reappear worse than before after a few days. Malarial fever is shorter and comes and goes frequently.

  • Blood Analysis

Dengue fever results in a noticeable platelet drop, while malaria infects red blood cells. A blood test that checks these parameters is usually enough to differentiate between both conditions in a particular case.

How Can You Prevent Malaria and Dengue?

If you live in malaria or dengue-endemic region, it is prudent to be aware of the measures taken by the local authorities to prevent these deadly diseases. Here are some things that are done to avoid these mosquito-borne diseases:

  • Taking care of open waters and closing down gutters, open drains, leaking pipes, and other water-filled surfaces, especially during the monsoon season.
  • Wearing clothes that will cover your legs and arms as much as possible
  • Use mosquito repellants to make sure that you do not get bitten by these mosquitos.
  • Since both the diseases are contagious, it is better to keep yourself away from infected peopled and try not to travel to places where there are outbreaks.
  • You can line your windows with a mesh to keep these mosquitos away, especially your bathroom windows, as mosquitoes are usually attracted to damp and cold places. 
  • Cover your bed with mosquito nets to add another layer of protection in the bedroom. Make sure that you are all set with the prevention tactics before you go to sleep.
  • Maintaining basic and essential hygiene, especially when it comes to garbage bags. Please do not leave them open inside your living space and empty the garbage regularly and as often as possible. 
  • The kitchen and bathroom are the two most important places where you should maintain good hygiene and cleanliness to keep any diseases away, and the same goes with Malaria and Dengue.
  • Make sure to maintain your garden areas well as unkempt gardens can serve as breeding grounds for mosquitoes.
  • Avoid leaving food items in the open as they will attract mosquitoes.
  • You can rely on products like repellant sprays, liquidators, and sprays to keep the mosquitoes away.

Conclusion:

Both Malaria and Dengue infect the patient in different ways, and their treatments also consequently differ in nature. However, they are, at the end of the day, vector-borne diseases that proliferate in areas frequented by mosquitoes. It is crucial that you take adequate precautions to keep your environment safe from either of these conditions and gather the know-how to distinguish between them in order to administer effective and disease-specific treatment, should the need arise.

By Adam

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