Dengue is sometimes mistaken for malaria, especially in areas where diagnosis relies on clinical exams—and the implications for the fight against malaria could be profound.
In Ghana, for example, dengue fever circulating in urban areas is going undiagnosed. "We believe dengue to be one of many diseases with classic fever and headache symptoms that are currently being misdiagnosed as malaria on a massive scale,” says Justin Stoler, University of Miami (UM) assistant professor and lead investigator of a new study published in the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene.
The study showed, for example, that in Accra, less than 1/3 of all national malaria diagnoses were confirmed by blood tests.
The findings could spark a re-evaluation of anti-malaria strategies, given concerns about over prescribing anti-malarials and hastening resistance to artemisinin therapies.