P. vivax Malaria and Dengue Fever Co-infection: A Cross-Sectional Study in the Brazilian Amazon
Malaria and dengue are the most prevalent vector-borne diseases worldwide and represent major public health problems. Both are endemic in tropical regions, propitiating co-infection. Only few co-infection cases have been reported around the world, with insufficient data so far to enhance the understanding of the effects of co-infection in the clinical presentation and severity.
A cross-sectional study was conducted (2009 to 2011) in hospitalized patients with acute febrile syndrome in the Brazilian Amazon. All patients were submitted to thick blood smear and PCR for Plasmodium sp. detection, ELISA, PCR and NS1 tests for dengue, viral hepatitis, HIV and leptospirosis. In total, 1,578 patients were recruited. Among them, 176 (11.1%) presented P. vivax malaria mono-infection, 584 (37%) dengue fever mono-infection, and 44 (2.8%) were co-infected. Co-infected patients had a higher chance of presenting severe disease (vs. dengue mono-infected), deep bleeding (vs. P. vivax mono-infected), hepatomegaly, and jaundice (vs. dengue mono-infected).
In endemic areas for dengue and malaria, jaundice (in dengue patients) and spontaneous bleeding (in malaria patients) should raise the suspicion of co-infection. Besides, whenever co-infection is confirmed, we recommend careful monitoring for bleeding and hepatic complications, which may result in a higher chance of severity, despite of the fact that no increased fatality rate was seen in this group.