Is it Dengue or COVID-19? How to Find Out


Have you ever heard of those confusing diagnosis of patients dying of COVID-19 even if the disease might not really be due to COVID-19?

When the pandemic broke out, the common symptoms among the COVID-19 patients and Dengue patients pose bigger risks. It might be worrisome to think that you contracted COVID-19 instead of Dengue.

Comparing COVID-19 and Dengue

Although COVID-19 is respiratory and Dengue a hematologic problem in nature, the similarity in their signs and symptoms such as fever, restlessness, muscle pain and vomiting cannot be overlooked. The symptoms for Dengue patients typically last for 2-7 days. The symptoms for COVID-19 patients is apparent within 14 days. While COVID-19 patients can become asymptomatic, the Dengue patients always have mild symptoms. These challenging subjective and objective assessments demand the medical field to accurately determine these illnesses through their gold standard of diagnoses.

A common testing for Dengue virus in the Philippines is the Dengue NS1 Antigen test wherein it checks the so-called “non-structural protein NS1” that can only be found in a dengue virus. However, the best diagnostic test for Dengue is the Nucleic Acid Amplification Test (NAAT), a molecular test that is used to ascertain a genomic material of a dengue virus. Both tests can be collected through blood samples in addition that the NAAT has the option to collect samples from the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), a clear fluid that envelops the brain and spinal cord.

Diagnosing standard for COVID-19 is the Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR), a type of NAAT molecular test that detects the genetic material of a virus specifically its nucleic acid.  Other tests for COVID-19 are Antigen Tests that can spot the existence of a particular antigen of a virus, which suggests recent viral infection; and the currently proposed Saliva Test as an easier and more convenient alternative to RT-PCR. All these tests have different sample collections: nasal swab, blood and saliva respectively.

Both COVID-19 and Dengue treatments need the travel history of the patient. The reason is that the strain of Dengue-carrying mosquitoes varies according to the tropical location. This makes Dengue to be considered as an epidemic state of its time due to its surge of disease cases only in a specific area, community or region whereas COVID-19 cases have instant increase growth rate in a day which covers several countries and continents. 

Dengue is noted to have four serotypes: 1, 2, 3 and 4. Once an individual acquires a specific dengue virus and recovers, studies indicate that there is a strong immunity against the other types of dengue viruses but only for a short-term period, based from the time when it was treated. Hence, there is still a possibility of getting infected by the other serotypes. It is also important to take into consideration that concurrent infections of the said illness might lead to severe cases as compared from the ones who were not infected beforehand.

COVID-19 on the other hand, also has its own variants: UK variant, South African variant, Brazil variant and California variant. As up to date, the UK variant still has the record of rapid increased transmission, more severe hospitalizations and mortality rates among the reported cases. Same with Dengue, series of re-acquiring COVID-19 can occur even if previously infected with the same illness, although the aforementioned variants and other newly-discovered variants are still currently being studied in terms of its distinctions as mutations have been swiftly evolving.

Treatment of COVID-19 and Dengue

The good news is that the World Health Organization recently reported that the percentage of Dengue cases in the Philippines is 95% lower this year compared to the past years. One reason for this is that more Filipinos have become more clean-conscious for the fear of contracting COVID-19. The condition of full hospitals and healthcare systems make it more difficult to send reliefs to the Dengue patients this pandemic. So, what could be done in this situation is to know and apply the early treatment for Dengue.

Since both diseases are caused by virus, initial course of treatment for mild symptoms are general supportive symptomatic treatments. Common chief complaints for Dengue are fever and body weakness primarily due to dehydration. Disease management include antipyretics such as paracetamol to be taken orally or intravenously for fever and increased oral fluid intake or intravenous hydration as necessary for dehydration. COVID-19 chief complaints of fever, common colds and cough are also usually treated with medications such as paracetamol for fever, nasal decongestants, antihistamines, cough suppressants and expectorants for common colds and cough. In addition, doses of Vitamin C and Zinc are recommended for stronger immunity against the infection.

In severe cases of Dengue and COVID-19, symptoms manifest with their target physiologic state – difficulty of breathing and inadequate oxygenation for COVID-19 patients and shock syndrome for Dengue patients which signifies internal bleeding – both of which immediately require hospitalization for prompt medical management.

Despite these appalling complications, the majority who are diagnosed by both illnesses distinctly are identified as mild cases. Viruses – whether be found from the mosquitoes or simply by human interactions – are unfortunately a part of the new normal. Nevertheless, we can merely do our part to take the essential safety precautions recommended by the health experts; maintain a clean environment and compliance with the guidelines of physical distancing, wearing masks, and the most basic yet vital illness prevention- hand washing.


It is the second summer of lockdown. We would have seen the obvious rise of Dengue cases in the Philippines. The pandemic prevents this to happen because COVID-19 is on the rise instead. One obvious truth must be faced: We are not immortal. Our health can fail us if we do not take preventive measures to care for our bodies. So, if ever you have mild symptoms of Dengue, do not ignore it. You can check your mild symptoms through the Telemedicine service offered by MYPOCKETDOCTOR. The MYPOCKETDOCTOR gives 24/7/365 access to professional nurses and doctors.