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Double trouble: Doctors see Covid patients with co-infections

Express News Service

BENGALURU: Doctors in Karnataka have begun to come across patients with co-infections – Covid-19 along with another disease, making it difficult to detect the second one and plan treatment for both conditions.These conditions include malaria, typhoid, tuberculosis, dengue, H1N1 and    bacterial pneumonia. “We have been seeing quite a number of cases with co-infections. Dengue and Covid are a deadly combination, we are studying each case and will soon work out a protocol for treatment of such cases,” said Dr C R Jayanthi, dean and director of Bangalore Medical College and Research Institute (BMCRI). 

Dr TMA Pai Hospital in Udupi has seen patients who have either H1N1 or malaria and Covid-19, and at least four patients who have tuberculosis with Covid-19, said Dr Shashikiran Umakanth, professor and head of the department of medicine, and nodal officer for Covid.“With fever and cough being the predominant symptoms of many of these diseases, diagnosing both becomes a challenge. Treatment, too, becomes an issue,” Dr Shashikiran said.

A senior doctor at Victoria Hospital in Bengaluru said that medication for one disease may adversely affect treatment of the other one. For instance, the platelet count in some dengue patients can be low, and require medical intervention. “Covid-19 patients are sometimes given blood thinners to prevent clotting. But thinners can cause shock in dengue patients who have a low platelet count,” the doctor said. During a national-level meeting of physicians for Covid management, doctors were asked to check for other infections if faced with atypical Covid-19 symptoms. 

Chances of missing a bacterial infection are high when someone tests positive for Covid-19, cautions Dr Giridhar Babu, senior epidemiologist. “It would be a good idea to test a patient with dengue-like symptoms for Covid-19 too,” he said. Another challenge with diagnosing co-infections is that dengue patients may come in with upper respiratory infection, but Covid patients don’t always show respiratory trouble. Catching dengue early also becomes difficult in patients who may be in home isolation.

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