New Delhi: In a step to avoid health risk in people during the coronavirus pandemic, the government has issued guidelines on prevention and treatment of co-infections of COVID-19 with other seasonal epidemic-prone diseases like dengue, malaria, seasonal influenza, and chikungunya. Notably, every year during this time the spread of such seasonal epidemic-prone diseases rises at its peak.
The government informed people that the co-infections can not only present as a diagnostic dilemma but may co-exist in coronavirus cases.
The health ministry said that while a coronavirus case may present with (i) Acute onset of fever and cough and (ii) Acute onset of any three or more of the following signs or symptoms: fever, cough, general weakness/fatigue, headache, myalgia, sore throat, coryza, dyspnoea, anorexia/nausea/vomiting, diarrhea, altered mental status, according to the WHO, the “case definition is not very specific”.
”Seasonal epidemic-prone diseases, as cited in the foregoing paragraphs may all present as febrile illness, with symptoms that mimic COVID-19. If there is a co-infection, then apart from the febrile illness there may be constellation of signs and symptoms that may lead to difficulty in diagnosis. A comparative analysis of disease onset, symptoms, signs, warning signs, complications and diagnosis is given at Annexure,” said the ministry’s statement.
The Ministry said, ”Even though the basic preventive strategies of COVID-19 and seasonal influenza are different from diseases, it is desirable that there is synergy in the prevention of these diseases. The States must make use of their resources effectively as staff is also diverted to provide COVID-19 response. This can be achieved by combining prevention activities.”
Meanwhile, the health ministry also made it clear that as each of these infections are antigenically distinct, cross-reactions (resulting in false-positive/false-negative results) in this cases cannot be totally ruled out.