Is there a relationship between Malaria and Covid-19?

Claim: Malaria and Covid-19 share similar symptoms

Relationship between Covid-19 and Malaria

While Covid-19 and Malaria may share similar symptoms but differ in modes of transmission and treatment.

According to a journal commissioned by Pan African Medical Journal on malaria and Covid-19 ‘commonalities, intersections and implications for sustaining malaria control’ Covid-19 exhibit similarities in clinical presentation and empirical treatment with malaria and they also share some pathophysiological characteristics which supports the overlap in clinical presentation.

“The similarities in high occurrence of Covid-19 and malaria in densely populated/urban slum and rural areas is attributed to poverty, poor infrastructure, poor access to health, limited health manpower and pre-existing comorbidities which favour high transmission of both diseases even though through different modes,” read the journal.

The authors attribute that similarities in the clinical presentation of these two diseases constitute a danger both ways.

“Fever is a cardinal symptom of Covid-19 and malaria, caregivers are bound to get confused with choice/practice of self-medication for malaria with the advent and awareness of Covid-19.

“Most deaths from severe malaria occur within the first 24 to 48 hours of symptoms occurring if not treated. The overlap of Covid-19 symptoms and malaria may lead to delay in treatment as a result of the testing guideline which has similar symptoms to malaria listed,” according to the journal.

In addition, the International Journal of Infectious disease on ‘Covid-19 and Malaria: A symptom screening challenge for malaria-endemic countries’ also states that malaria shares some of the highly recognisable symptoms with covid-19 such as fever, difficulty in breathing, fatigue and headaches on acute onset.

“Thus, a malaria case may be misclassified as Covid-19 if symptoms alone are used to define a case during this emergency period and vice versa. Malaria symptoms appear within 10-15 days after an infective bite, multi-organ failure is common in severe cases among adults while respiratory distress is also expected in children with malaria, mimicking what is usually reported in patients with Covid-19,” read the journal.

“Human travel history is also significant, like with Covid-19, when screening for a suspected case of malaria as well as means of curbing transmission. Also, both Covid-19 and malaria-infected individuals may be asymptomatic for a long time while transmitting the infections through their respective modes”.

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