Kerala braces for yet another season of infectious diseases

High-level meeting reviews public health activities being taken up by districts. All departments told to handle pre-monsoon works in a coordinated manner due to unusual spike in diseases

Updated - May 18, 2024 01:20 pm IST

Published - May 17, 2024 10:41 pm IST - Thiruvananthapuram

Veena George. File

Veena George. File | Photo Credit: Thulasi Kakkat

Kerala is bracing for yet another season when all infectious diseases, including vector-borne and water or food-borne diseases are expected to peak and any indifference or slackening in preparedness and adoption of precautions can lead to loss of lives, according to Health Minister Veena George.

In a statement issued here on Friday following a meeting of Health department officials, Ms. George said all departments had to undertake preparedness measures for the upcoming monsoon season in a coordinated manner as the intense heat wave that was being experienced by the State and the summer showers that had followed could possibly lead to an unusual spike in all infectious diseases in the next few months.

All local-self government bodies would have to take up sanitation activities in a sustained manner. Sanitation of public places and hostels should be ensured utilising the provisions in the Kerala Public Health Act of 2023. All wells and other drinking water sources should be chlorinated. Food safety checks should be intensified and water sources in schools should be checked to ensure that these were safe to drink, it was directed at the meeting .

At the meeting, in which all district health administration officials were present, it was decided that fever clinics be started in all hospitals and that all treatment protocols be put in place. Beds should be set aside in isolation wards. Hospitals should check their drug stock and take measures for replenishing the stock as soon as the drug stocks dipped to 30%.

Ms. George said any non-compliance with directives issued by the department in keeping premises and public water sources clean wouldl be dealt under the Public Health Act

Convalescent period is six weeks

The Minister said secondary infections were being reported in many who contracted hepatitis A, which could turn dangerous. Those affected by hepatitis should necessarily take rest for six weeks and follow the health advisory issued by public health officials.

All districts had been asked to intensify public awareness measures, including announcements over public address systems.

All districts had been put on vigil against dengue and leptospirosis as well as hepatitis A infections, especially since the rainy season was following soon. It should be ensured that all preventive measures were being adopted to keep the number of cases under check and that all those who reached hospitals were being provided adequate care .

The public health activities being taken up by districts were reviewed at the meeting. Hepatitis A outbreaks had been reported in large numbers from many districts, including Ernakulam, Malappuram, Kozhikode, Thrissur, Kannur, Pathanamthitta and Palakkad, where the infection had been traced to the contamination of drinking water sources. Chlorination of wells and other drinking water sources were being carried out on a war footing and people should take care that the water they used for drinking was boiled and cooled.

Ms. George said after the meeting that public health experts had warned that dengue fever cases could intensify by July and, hence, dengue hotspots in the State should be identified early. Vector control measures, especially source reduction, should be taken up in a sustained manner by local bodies with the participation and cooperation of the public.

Dry day observance should be a regular affair and sanitation activities should be carried out during the weekend. Pre-monsoon cleaning activities were crucial to keeping dengue infections under check.

The public should also be on the alert against leptospirosis, which has a high mortality, and those forced to be in contact with stagnant water, such as farmers or sanitation workers should take doxycycline prophylaxis to prevent infection. Even those who engage in gardening and who handle wet soil should take doxycycline prophylaxis.

The avian influenza situation and its follow-up measures in Alappuzha, Kottayam and Pathanamthitta districts also came up for review at the meeting.

Pregnant women and those with comorbidities should take special attention and wear masks to prevent COVID-19.

The Director of Health Services and all senior health officials, including district surveillance officers and district medical officers, participated in the meeting.

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