Platelet count dipping? May not be dengue

Doctors say there are several kinds of viral fevers that manifest dengue-like symptoms.

Published: 19th July 2019 04:03 AM  |   Last Updated: 19th July 2019 04:03 AM   |  A+A-

dengue, platelet

For representational purposes

Express News Service

BENGALURU: Prabha developed pain in her knees, ankles and shoulder blades last week. She had chills, but her temperature was high.

Two of her relatives, who visited her had the same symptoms, and she was sure that she had dengue. However, within a few days, the fever subsided.

“Only aches remain now,” says Prabha, who is one among the many city residents who have suffered dengue-like fever this season.

With reports of dengue cases putting everyone on high alert, citizens of late are quick to assume that symptoms of high fever, chills, joint pain, body pain, nausea, low appetite and tiredness invariably mean that they are down with the dreaded disease.

But low platelet count does not always mean that the person is suffering from dengue fever, say city doctors.

Anurag Sinha was down with dengue five years back, and recently found himself experiencing the same symptoms.

“I was scared that dengue had come back. Even doctors suspected it. However, three days after the onset of fever, I tested negative for dengue despite having low platelet count. Fever lasted a week, and it took another week for the platelet count to increase. I still feel a little weak though,” said Sinha.

There are overlapping vector-borne viruses owing to the monsoon and stagnation of water, doctors explain.

“There are thousands of viruses changing rapidly with no methodology to check them. These viruses are not new but 10-20 per cent of them have mutated DNA, composition and protein. I have had 20-25 cases of such dengue-like symptoms. The course of treatment remains the same, with anti-viral medicines, managing dehydration, platelet count and joint pain,” said Dr Anantha Padmanabha, Internal Medicine, Consultant, Fortis Hospital.

Minor differences according to him would be low platelet count but not as low as that of dengue patients and joint paint not as severe as chikungunya patients. 

“There are several kinds of viral fevers that result in low platelet count and dengue, chikungunya happen to be just two of them. Patients come panicking and take the dengue test for around Rs 2,500. This is a burden on their pocket and adds to their stress unnecessarily,” said Dr Sreenivasamurthy, consultant - physician and diabetologist, Apollo Hospitals.

He recommends taking the Complete Blood Count (CBC) test first to ascertain white blood cell, red blood cell and platelet count, which costs around just Rs 150. Only if the doctor recommends, must one take the dengue profile test, he advised.

The scenario in government hospitals is no different.  Dr Ashok ML, head of Internal Medicine at Victoria Hospital said,” People should not self-medicate out of fear that they may have dengue. These symptoms are common in the season when mosquitoes breed. Body pain and headache are symptoms present in several viral infections. One difference is dengue patients also get retro-orbital pain (pain in the back of the eye) and back pain.”

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