Malaria vs dengue fever have always been, since the beginning of history, two diseases that have been in charge of battling, to see who takes the number one position over which is the most contagious and deadly. We know, that these are two serious life-threatening infectious diseases that affect millions of people around the world, especially in tropical and subtropical regions.
Both diseases are transmitted by mosquitoes, and can cause similar symptoms, such as headache, muscle aches, and fatigue. However, while they share some similarities, they also have significant differences in terms of symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment. In addition, the prevention and control of these diseases are key to reducing their impact on public health. In this time, we will take a look at the battle of malaria vs dengue fever and how they go, exploring their similarities, differences, and challenges in fighting these diseases.
Malaria vs Dengue fever: two diseases, the same vector
For both dengue and malaria, there is only one mode of transmission: through a vector mosquito. These arthropods are the exclusive vectors of both diseases.
Vectors are necessary vehicles for the transmission of diseases, which means that a person cannot be infected with malaria or dengue through another person. They are transmitted only through the bite of an infected mosquito, but each disease is caused by different mosquitoes.
People contract malaria after being bitten by an infected female Anopheles mosquito. When it comes to dengue, Aedes mosquitoes (Aedes aegypti or Aedes albopictus) are the responsible vectors.
In general terms, malaria vs dengue fever and how to differentiate them?
Although both types of fever can have similar symptoms, there are also some key differences that can help tell them apart. Some of the most common differences between malaria fever and dengue fever are described below:
- 1. Duration of fever: In dengue fever, the fever usually lasts 2–7 days, while in malaria fever, the fever can last 4–7 days or even longer.
- 2. Pattern of fever: In dengue fever, the fever usually occurs in an ascending and descending pattern, that is, the fever gradually increases over several days and then gradually decreases. In malaria fever, the fever usually occurs in a cyclical pattern, with high fever followed by low fever and then high fever again in cycles that can last 24 to 48 hours.
- 3. Other symptoms: In addition to fever, dengue fever may present other symptoms such as headache, pain behind the eyes, muscle and joint pain, nausea, and rash. In malaria fever, symptoms may include sweating, headache, muscle and joint pain, fatigue, and chills.
- 4. Complications: In severe cases, both dengue fever and malaria fever, can cause severe complications. Such as dengue hemorrhagic fever and dengue shock syndrome in the case of dengue fever, and anemia, kidney failure, seizures, and even death in the case of malaria fever.
Viral vs. Parasitic Infection
A key differentiation is that malaria is an infectious disease caused by a parasite, while dengue is a viral infection.
Malaria is transmitted only by female Anopheles mosquitoes because they depend on blood meals for egg production. Once an infected female Anopheles mosquito initiates a blood meal on an uninfected human, she injects the Plasmodium parasite through her salivary glands, beginning its life cycle and maturing in the human body.
Dengue is a disease caused by the dengue virus (DENV), which is transmitted by the Aedes mosquito.
When a human becomes infected through the bite of an infected Aedes mosquito, they develop viremia, a condition in which the blood contains a high level of the dengue virus. In this period, the mosquito feeds on the blood of the infected human and the virus replicates in the mosquito.
The contest “Malaria vs Dengue fever” goes hand in hand, both fight to win the award for the most deadly.
You already know the great debate of malaria vs dengue fever, now we are going to know the symptoms and their corresponding treatments:
According to the WHO, malaria is preventable and curable, although it can be difficult to track, as the parasite can enter the body and remain inactive for long periods. As it is a febrile illness, fever-like symptoms such as the following typically manifest:
- Shaking chills
- Nausea and vomiting
- Muscle and joint pain
- Rapid breathing and heart rate
- A temperature of 38 °C to 41 °C
Diagnostic tests, such as blood tests and other tests, will be done to check for possible complications. Malaria treatment involves prescription drugs to kill the parasite. A vaccine, called RTS, S, is also available. It can reduce severe malaria to life-threatening.
The WHO has classified the disease as dengue (with or without warning signs) and severe dengue. At first, some infected people show no symptoms or show mild symptoms. Once in the febrile stage, with a temperature of 40 °C, symptoms such as the following should be observed more closely:
- Inflamed glands
- Nausea and vomiting
- Aches and pains (joint and muscle pain, pain behind the eyes)
- Severe headaches
Some cases progress to severe dengue or critical phase, and are considered a life-threatening emergency. Warning signs of severe dengue fever include:
- Difficult or fast breathing
- Blood in vomit, urine, or stool
- Bleeding under the skin, which looks like a bruise
- Bleeding gums or nose
- Tiredness, irritability, or restlessness
Since the disease is viral, there is no specific cure for dengue. For symptoms such as fever, aches and pains, medications such as paracetamol or ibuprofen may be prescribed. Once warning signs appear, immediate medical attention is essential.
Malaria vs dengue fever: a call to action for global health
After exploring and researching, it is very clear that malaria vs dengue fever is one of the most important battles in the fight against mosquito-borne infectious diseases.
Despite efforts to control these diseases, malaria vs dengue fever (which is one of the strongest symptoms) remains a constant challenge throughout the world. Outbreaks of both diseases can occur at any time and in any place, which means that vigilance and prevention must be constant.
It is important to recognize that malaria vs dengue fever does not only affect people living in tropical and subtropical regions. People who travel to these areas are also at risk of contracting these diseases and can take them to other places, increasing the possibility of outbreaks and spread.
Malaria vs dengue fever also highlights the need for equitable and accessible health care. People living in poorer and more rural areas are at higher risk of contracting these diseases due to lack of access to adequate health services and lack of resources to prevent and treat these diseases.
Ultimately, the fight against malaria vs dengue fever is a reminder of the importance of global cooperation and investment in research and development of treatments. With a focus on prevention and control, we can work together to combat these diseases and improve public health around the world.