KOCHI: Viral diseases reported in various parts of the state have become a cause of concern. Along with Covid, emerging viral threats including dengue, H1N1 and influenza (flu) are worrisome, say public health experts. Nowadays, many are seeking treatment with symptoms similar to Covid, but once tested, the results turn negative. Though the symptoms subside in 5-8 days of taking antibiotics, doctors opine it’s the flu that many are affected these days. With the Covid and the flu circulating around, it’s a whammy situation in Kerala.
“The symptoms the patients have are a bit severe including high fever, body aches, headaches and loss of appetite. The cases that appear before us are mostly viral infections. But takes more time to recover thereby affecting their work and daily productivity. In the tests that were conducted in the few hospital admissions, especially in children, parainfluenza was identified,” said Dr Abraham M, pediatrician with a hospital in Kochi.
When it comes to testing and identifying the illness, the government hospitals and facilities run at a slow pace. “PCR testing facilities are not offered at many government hospitals. With the Covid cases rising, though a few facilities are set up at government medical colleges and general hospitals, other than Covid they are not conducting tests for ruling out any other possible viral attacks. Still, we are relying on the virology institute in Alappuzha. Testing and ruling out illnesses is important, as days go by the health condition of the patients is deteriorating,” said Dr Jacob Thomas, physician and a former member of Kerala Government Medical Officers’ Association (KGMOA).
“At a stage when the viral deaths are reported and cases increasing, testing should be strengthened. Not all can afford the private hospital facility. The PCR lab facility set up at the hospital should be enough for the testing to be carried out. It is only the testing kits that vary, rest all the facilities remain the same be it Covid, dengue, H1N1 or any other viral infections,” said Dr Jacob.
The recent death of child due to H1N1, and another death due to West Nile fever are incidents that stress on strengthening the public health measures. It was only after the death of the 12-year-old that it was confirmed due to H1N1. “Normally respiratory illness subsides with antibiotics. But at a stage when Covid cases are rising, it is important to test and identify the infection” said a professor with the General Medicine Department of Kalamassery Medical College Hospital.
What is Parainfluenza?
Parainfluenza refers to a group of viruses called human parainfluenza viruses (HPIVs). These normally cause respiratory illnesses in infants and children.
Symptoms: Mainly fever, headache, cough and chest congestion; it could lead to pneumonia as well.
Emerging viral threats
Dengue: Dengue virus is spread to people through the bites of infected Aedes mosquitoes. Dengue outbreaks have been reported at various places in the state. Fever, body ache, pain and rashes are the main symptoms. Mortality can be reduced from around 20% to less than 5% by early and appropriate treatment.
West Nile virus: It is a mosquito-borne disease. The infection is usually asymptomatic. 80% asymptomatic and the rest have mostly fever with body pain, headache and sometimes rashes. Only among 1% of infected, brain is involved causing encephalitis. 5-10% of people with encephalitis die.
H1N1: Swine flu is a subtype of influenza A virus that causes upper and, potentially, lower respiratory tract infections in the host it infects. Symptoms are mostly fever with headache and body ache, sore throat and dry cough; often starting as runny nose. In a small percentage (mostly elderly, pregnant and immunosuppressed) it progresses to pneumonia. With severe pneumonia, 10-15% can die.
Viral diarrhoea: Viral diarrhoea caused by Norovirus spreads rapidly among people sharing washrooms, toilets and same households. Mostly causes dehydration and its complications.