Disease, Popular Article

Malaria Vs Dengue: How to Know What’s Causing the Fever

As the temperature drops and winter starts settling in, it is common to experience seasonal flu and fever, however, this year winter seems to have knocked our doors quite early in most parts of the country. This changing weather brings along a wave of various infections ranging from uncomplicated ones to others posing serious threat to you and your family.

Many of the illnesses share fever as the common symptom. A right diagnosis forms the cornerstone of getting the right course of treatment and helps you recover early. Ensure to book a health test and get to know what is causing the high temperature.

This winter, get ready to access quality health testing with metropolis.

Seasonal change provides a fertile breeding season for certain harmful germs and vectors that spread diseases. Malaria and dengue are two such mosquito-borne diseases that keep us worried almost every year. As per the data available, India faces a huge burden of mosquito-borne diseases, contributing 34% of global dengue and 3% of global malaria cases.

While malaria and dengue share some common symptoms, there are certain fundamental differences too. Here, we are sharing some details around these conditions and how to know if your fever is due to malaria or dengue.

Malaria at glance

  • It is a life-threatening disease caused by plasmodium parasites, which are transmitted through the bite of infected female Anopheles mosquitoes
  • Although, it is preventable and curable, it accounted for approximately four lakh deaths in 2019, globally
  • Children aged under 5 years are the most susceptible group affected by malaria
  • Its transmission depends on climatic conditions with peaks during and just after the rainy season

Dengue at glance

  • It is a mosquito-borne viral disease transmitted by female mosquitoes mainly of the species Aedes aegypti
  • Dengue virus usually produces only mild flu-like illness. However, occasionally this develops a potentially lethal complication called dengue haemorrhagic fever
  • Dengue fever causes a drop of your white blood cells and platelet count, from 1.5-4 lakhs to as low as 20,000-40,000.
  • The Dengue virus can damage your bone marrow, which is the primary platelet-producing centre of the body and can also generate antibodies that cause destruction of the platelets. This results in a low platelet count.

Malaria and dengue: How are the symptoms different?


Symptoms usually appear 10–15 days after the infective mosquito bite, which can include:

  • High fever
  • Body ache
  • Moderate to severe chills
  • Fall in body temperature resulting in excessive sweating
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea.


Symptoms usually persist for 2–7 days, after an incubation period of 4–10 days after the bite from an infected mosquito. Dengue should be suspected when a high fever (40°C/104°F) is accompanied with two of the following symptoms:

  • Severe headache
  • Pain behind the eyes
  • Muscle and joint pains
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Swollen glands
  • Rash.

What you must note
The similar symptoms of dengue and malaria include high fever, fatigue, and nausea, but some of the dengue symptoms stand out, such as:

  • Pain behind the eyes.
  • Swollen glands.
  • Rashes.

Any warning signs of severe dengue including vomiting, blood in vomitus or stool, belly pain, etc.

Diagnosis of malaria and dengue

Malaria tests look for parasites in the blood. They can be identified by examining a patient’s blood under the microscope, spread out as a “blood smear” on a microscopic slide. Book Malaria Smear Examination here.

Dengue profile is a lab test panel used to diagnose dengue fever. You must get a dengue profile done if you are experiencing symptoms of dengue. It is very common to confuse the mild dengue symptoms with a seasonal viral fever or other illnesses causing fever.

Suspecting dengue? Get Dengue NS1 antigen test done

Early detection of dengue is important for better clinical management to prevent advanced prescriptions and unnecessary hospitalization. Hence, a timely and accurate laboratory diagnosis is significant for prompt identification of dengue infection.

Book Dengue IgG and IgM antibody test here.

Practice a little extra care

Implementing a healthy lifestyle by improving hygienic living conditions can be a right precautionary step during this time of the year.

Follow these precautionary measures to prevent mosquito borne infections:

Prevention of mosquito breeding:

  • Don’t allow water to stagnate or collect anywhere in and around the house;
  • Domestic water storage containers such as coolers, buckets, etc. should be covered, emptied and cleaned on a weekly basis;
  • Dispose solid waste properly;
  • Maintain hygiene and wash your bathrooms regularly;
  • Properly use insecticides to treat water storage/outdoor containers.

Personal protection from mosquito bites:

  • Use personal household protection measures, like repellents, insecticide treated nets etc. These precautions must be implemented during the day both inside and outside of the home, as mostly mosquito bites throughout the day;
  • Wear clothes that reduce skin exposure to mosquitoes;
  • Sleep under an insecticide-treated net, which can reduce contact between mosquitoes and humans.
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