They’re small, they’re invisible and they’re deadly. Find out how to protect yourself from dengue and malaria.
Dengue and malaria are two of the most prevalent mosquito-borne diseases in the world. While they share a similar transmission process, they have distinct symptoms and diagnosing them accurately can be challenging. Moreover, although some preventive measures are effective against both, treatment options for each are vastly different.
Dr Anbazhagan Kuppusamy is a Consultant Internal Medicine & Infectious Disease Physician at Bukit Tinggi Medical Centre.
TRANSMISSION PROCESS OF MALARIA AND DENGUE
Malaria is caused by the protozoan parasite, Plasmodium, which is transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected female Anopheles mosquito. On the other hand, dengue is caused by the dengue virus, which is transmitted from humans to humans through the bite of an infected female Aedes
COMMON WAYS TO CONTRACT BOTH THESE DISEASES
The most common way to contract both diseases is through the bite of an infected female mosquito—Anopheles in the case of malaria, and Aedes in the case of dengue.
Preventing mosquito bites is the best way to prevent infection. Here are some preventive measures that
individuals can take:
- Wear long sleeves and long pants.
- Apply mosquito repellent with DEET to exposed skin.
- Use insecticide-treated bed nets.
- Put screens on windows and doors.
- Treat clothing, mosquito nets, tents, sleeping bags and fabrics with permethrin insect repellent.
- Reduce mosquito habitat in dwellings.
- Dwell in well-screened houses.
- Do not let water stagnate anywhere in your surroundings— fertile breeding grounds for Aedes larvae and pupae.
- Keep the house airy and well-lit.
- Time outings, as dengue-associated mosquito biting is a dawn-to-dusk phenomenon.
DIFFERENCES INSYMPTOMS BETWEEN DENGUE AND MALARIA
Symptomatic malaria and dengue are distinguished by their symptoms. Dengue is an acute febrile illness that has three phases:
- An initial febrile phase lasting 3-5 days.
- A critical phase onset day with warning signs seen in day 5-6.
- A convalescent phase seen in day 6-day 7.
The whole episode usually lasts about a week, unless complications like severe dengue arise. Dengue symptoms also include rashes, swollen lymph nodes, nausea, vomiting, joint and muscle pain and a slower pulse rate compared to the rise in temperature. Malaria can be abrupt with high fevers, and fevers are usually intermittent with a cold and hot phase-shaking chills and rigor, which is characteristic. Malaria symptoms also include shaking chill shivers, headaches, nausea, vomiting, rapid breathing, rapid heart rate, diarrhoea fatigue and temperatures between 38-41° Celsius.
DIAGNOSTIC TOOLS AND METHODS
Significant progress has been made in the development of molecular diagnostic methods for malaria.
One such method is the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) technique, which is used to detect the presence of the Plasmodium parasite DNA in a patient’s blood sample. Another method is the Loop-Mediated Isothermal Amplification (LAMP) technique, which is a simple and rapid method
for detecting malaria infection. For dengue, one of the most promising developments is the biosensor platform, which uses a biosensor chip that detects dengue virus particles in a patient’s blood sample. Geosensors are another promising diagnostic method for dengue.
THE LATEST TREATMENT OPTIONS FOR DENGUE AND MALARIA
Latest treatment options for dengue and malaria are influenced by various factors, including the rising trend of vector-borne diseases due to complacency, urban migration, population growth and lack of basic services. To address this trend, public health officials should understand environmental determinants and ecological processes related to the transmission of vector-borne diseases. In Malaysia, technologies used to combat vector-borne diseases include long-lasting insecticidal nets, indoor residual spraying, outdoor spraying, biological control and chemical treatment. There is no appropriate antiviral treatment available in the market for dengue, and treatment is mainly symptomatic and supportive. However, a new drug, krintafel, and Imatinib, an old drug used in chronic myeloid leukaemia treatment, have shown promi in treating malaria.
THE ROLE OF TECHNOLOGY IN THE FIGHT AGAINST VECTORBORNE DISEASES
Technology, including innovative insect repellents, vaccines, genetic modification and aerial drones delivering insecticides, plays a crucial role in fighting vector-borne diseases. Environmental monitoring systems, remote sensing by satellites and spatial statistics can provide a better understanding of the environment and vector-borne diseases. Overall, emerging technologies offer hope for reducing the prevalence of vector-borne diseases like dengue and malaria. By continuing to invest in research and development, we can hope to see even more innovative approaches to prevention and treatment in the years to come.
Source: CALIBRE, June 2023