How do you know if you have Dengue or Coronavirus


Both diseases, coronavirus, and dengue have similar symptoms, and differentiating them can be of great help in slowing down the progression of the new coronavirus.

Mexico is now facing two battles; the coronavirus and dengue, the first disease has left more than 139 000 196 16 000 448 infected and deaths while dengue is heading towards the time of the year when cases increase. 

Dengue, for its part, in the epidemiological week number 23 in Mexico has caused the death of 11 people and a total of 3,673 positive cases are recorded throughout the Republic of Mexico, according to the General Directorate of Epidemiology.

Given that both diseases have similar symptoms, it is important to differentiate them in order to treat it or, in the case of coronavirus, to prevent its spread. 

People who fall ill with coronavirus and dengue can share symptoms such as fever, tiredness, headache, rashes, bone pain, and general discomfort. 

But in addition to the above, a person infected with coronavirus would present: sore throat, dry cough, diarrhea, conjunctivitis, loss of sense of smell or taste, and difficulty breathing, indicates the World Health Organization.  (WHO)

On the other hand, a person who has contracted dengue will present eye pain, nausea, insomnia, pruritus (itching), lack of appetite, abdominal pain, vomiting, and when this disease worsens, bleeding, seizures, and severe dehydration may occur. also according to WHO

Both diseases can be avoided; the coronavirus maintaining social distance, constant handwashing and the use of face masks, while dengue is controlled by keeping patios free from places where water accumulates since this is where the fly that transmits the dengue virus reproduces.

Dengue, the other enemy of Mexico

The cases of the virus transmitted by the mosquito ‘Aedes aegypti’ have increased in the country, so experts point out how it can be differentiated from COVID-19

Aspects of a dengue fly (Photo: El Debate)

While the epidemiological map of COVID-19 cases keeps all the states of the country red, with 20,832 confirmed active cases, the dengue virus rebounds in its shadow, with 3,494 confirmed cases until the first of June, and reaches up to 27,087 probable cases.

Against this background, Eduardo Rodríguez Noriega, member of the Situational Health Room for Dengue Care of the University Center of Health Sciences of the University of Guadalajara and recognized with the National Prize for Medicine in 2016, stated in an interview for EL DEBATE that the concern of the health sector falls on diagnoses and differentiating between the symptoms of COVID-19 and those of dengue.

In the coming months, he stressed that the rebound in virus transmitted by the Aedes aegypti mosquito will be greater than that reported so far, and warned that the key to avoiding confusion is that both the patient and the doctor identify the symptoms of each one appropriately. 

Cases on the rise

Just the last week prior to the isolation strategy of the National Day of Sana Distancia announced by the federal government in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ministry of Health reported that the cases of dengue diagnosed were 2,183, with 18 thousand 688 probable cases. As of June 1, 2020, 3,494 cases were confirmed, with 27,087 likely. 

It should be noted that these figures are higher than those registered in 2019. On June 3 of that year, the Ministry of Health reported 2,388 cases across the country; while 2019 would close with 41 thousand 505 confirmed cases. 

Of the 3,494 confirmed cases, as of June 1, 2020, 2,022 were diagnosed as non-severe dengue, 1,141 were diagnosed as dengue with warning signs, and 331 as severe dengue. The states with the most total diagnoses have been Veracruz, with 816 cases; Jalisco, with 495; Tabasco, with 382; Guerrero, with 250; Nayarit, with 236; Quintana Roo, with 204; and San Luis Potosí, with 201. The rest of the entities have registered less than 200 cases. 

Sinaloa was located with 66 cases, of which 20 were diagnosed with warning signs, 41 as non-serious and 5 as severe. Those figures are also higher, compared to those of June 3, 2019, when 25 confirmed cases of dengue were registered, of which 23 were non-severe dengue, 2 with warning signs, and none in a state of seriousness. 

Differentiate viruses

Asked about how to differentiate between COVID-19 and dengue diseases, Eduardo Rodríguez Noriega, also head of Infectology at the Hospital Civil de Guadalajara Fray Antonio Alcalde, explained that very early in the COVID-19 pandemic it was said that The virus caused a lot of fever, cough, and difficulty breathing; however, little by little other symptoms have been added, such as loss of taste and smell.

This while to date dengue continues to appear with the same symptoms and is classified as non-severe dengue: headache and eye pain, skin rash, and bone pain.

However, he explained that the Ministry of Health at the federal level includes dengue with warning signs, which refers to dengue with abdominal pain, vomiting, a disorder of consciousness, and liver growth, which then leads to severe dengue. In the latter, there is shock and multi-organ damage. 

” We clinicians see dengue as a disease that causes fever, chills, headache, general malaise, pain behind the eyes, myalgia (muscle pain) and arthralgia (joint pain). In COVID-19 there are no myalgias (muscle pain) and arthralgias (joint pain), for example, no pain behind the eyes and bone pain. What there is in COVID-19 are respiratory data, but other warning signs may appear, such as pain when breathing, both on the chest and the front, which we call pleuritic pain, when breathing in and out, in which there may be a cough, coughing up blood, skin abnormalities or cardiac arrhythmias, “he explained.

He explained that some researchers have recently said that in COVID-19 the clinician should expect different types of association of sets or conglomerates of symptoms. In the case of dengue, you have to look for something that is very common: decreased platelets, for example. 

Among some confusions that may arise, he identified the gastrointestinal symptoms, as well as the conglomerate of cutaneous symptoms, such as skin lesions and vasculitis, although in this case, he warned that they do not resemble dengue at all: « If you put together more lost fever than taste and smell, it is almost 80 percent certain that this will be COVID-19 and not dengue, because in dengue it is very rare that loss of taste or loss of smell occurs at the beginning. Every day what we see from COVID-19 is changing, while in dengue it has not changed much, it continues to present itself the same, ”he reaffirmed. 

Eduardo Rodríguez Noriega, national medicine award, indicated for EL DEBATE that when there is a risk of having all these diseases in the community, such as COVID-19, more dengue, citizens should avoid self-medication because they may suffer reactions in the hematological system, which corresponds to problems in the blood and in the hematopoietic organs, such as the bone marrow, the lymph nodes, the spleen, etc. 

He added that, unfortunately, in the coming months and weeks the seasonal influenza epidemic will also begin, so three diseases will have to be fought: COVID-19, dengue, and influenza. “ So, now everything is going to be more complicated because we are going to have three diseases at the same time that they give fever, chills, headache, sore throat; and initially dengue, influenza, and COVID-19 may look alike, but COVID-19, unfortunately for some patients, the number of symptoms and signs that are very specific increases every day“he explained. 

He emphasized that the differential diagnosis is based on the direct questioning that the doctor must do to the patient at this time. 

Fumigation and prevention

In 2019, the Government of Mexico indicated that 900 million pesos are invested annually in insecticide to combat the mosquito that transmits dengue, zika, and chikungunya. According to the Undersecretary of Health, Hugo López-Gatell, the law indicates that the purchase of insecticides must be carried out through direct awards because the majority is a patent product.

However, he said that 66 percent of the purchase of insecticides corresponds to state governments through the transfer of resources from the federation. He added that until the second stage the federal government intervenes, especially when state capacities have been exceeded. 

Rodríguez Noriega pointed out that fumigation is important, but it is not as important as recognizing that dengue is a disease that occurs within the home: ” The mosquito does not travel from Guadalajara to Sinaloa, the mosquito only flies within or very little around the home, then there are households that have problems with water, that have not thrown it from a pot, from a pot; the vats that have the dengue larvae, then it is an intradomiciliary disease. It is obviously different from COVID-19, because this, even if it does not have symptoms, can infect everyone without the need for a fumigation, because it is a disease transmitted by the respiratory route, “he said.


He’s warned not to have water in pots, in puddles or in bushes, because that facilitates the growth of the mosquito that transmits dengue. He explained that citizens must remember that dengue is a disease that is transmitted from an infected family to another family member through the mosquito.

Sinaloa: Police officers with COVID-19 and with dengue

Major Sergio Lagunes Inclán, Director of Public Safety of Angostura, pointed out that currently around twenty officers are isolated for presenting symptoms of COVID-19 and dengue, EL DEBATE published: ” There have been suspected cases of COVID-19, dengue and colds, but right now there is the alarm, and thank God the tests that have been applied to them have come out negative, but yes, at the time ten patients presented themselves at the same time, and we had to put them to rest

He explained that some who were sick have already recovered, and little by little they are returning to their jobs, but there are still around six officers who are at home under medical supervision.

Eduardo Rodríguez Noriega
Career: Member of the Health Situation Room for Dengue Care of the University Center for Health Sciences (CUCS) of the University of Guadalajara. Researcher at the CUCS Institute of Infectious Pathology and a doctor attached to the Infectology Service of the Civil Hospital of Guadalajara. It is the 2016 national medicine award.


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