Catching COVID-19 and dengue at the same time is theoretically possible

dengue
France-Antilles Guadeloupe ponders whether it is theoretically possible to contract COVID-19 and dengue at the same time and one doctor says that it is possible… (sigh). Many Caribbean countries are still reeling from the dengue epidemic, which is still a reality, although it is waning. 

The Covid epidemic comes while the dengue epidemic is not over. And nothing prevents you from contracting both diseases at the same time. We have observed that, for a few days, in the daily reports that it disseminates, the Regional Health Agency [Agence régionale de santé (ARS)] has begun mentioning the dengue epidemic, at the risk of creating a slight confusion for some people.

The main reason for this shift in discourse is that the dengue epidemic is still here. “Dengue fever is still present, with more than 7,000 cases identified since the beginning of the epidemic.” And its symptoms are “sometimes similar to those of COVID.” Therefore, the main risk is a possible confusion between the two diseases and of a congestion, even a saturation, of emergency telephone lines. It is for this reason that in addition to the elimination of breeding sites and the use of repellents, the ARS invites, in the event of symptoms, “to first consult your doctor.”

But there is another concern, more insidious still, that the Agency does not mention. Is it possible to be co-infected? Is it possible to contract dengue and COVID at the same time? We can imagine what the combined effects of these two diseases could be…

No cases of co-infection detected

We asked Stéphanie Guyomard—biologist and head of the laboratory at the Pasteur Instituts in Guadeloupe—this question. Her answer? “I don’t see any reason why a person can’t get both viruses at the same time, becoming co-infected.”

However, hasn’t recent research has shown that it is very unlikely to contract a cold and the flu together? “Yes. But this is because, on the one hand, colds and flu have the same modes of transmission, and, on the other, they target the same cells. In contrast, dengue and COVID have different routes of transmission. And their targets are different: for COVID, it is the respiratory system, and for dengue, the blood cells.”

We have been warned. Of course, as Ms. Guyomard reminds us, “the dengue epidemic is in its descending phase.” Of course, “there is currently no case of co-infection.” Of course, the chances of contracting the two diseases at once are very minimal. But, hey: there is nothing to lose, in this period of confinement where we are the dreamed-of prey for mosquitoes, to make war on their habitats…

Translated by Ivette Romero. See the original (in French) at https://www.guadeloupe.franceantilles.fr/actualite/sante/attention-attraper-covid-et-dengue-en-meme-temps-c-est-theoriquement-possible-568423.php

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