Govt issues guidelines for mgmt of co-infections of COVID with seasonal diseases

New Delhi (NVI): Health Ministry today 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, observed every year during this time, as India continues to battle the coronavirus pandemic.

Health Ministry has issued guidelines for states and medical facilities on management of coronavirus co-infections, amid increasing instances of COVID-19 patients also contracting other seasonal diseases with similar symptoms, and the health complications emerging because of diagnostic delay.

Co-infections can not only present as a diagnostic dilemma to the doctors but may co-exist in coronavirus cases, the ministry said.

The health advisory states that people can contract coronavirus and other seasonal diseases at the same time and emphasises on need for aggressive testing for early and accurate diagnosis to save lives.

The Health Ministry stated that coronavirus infection may present with acute onset of fever and cough and 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.

Furthermore, the viral, vector-borne and bacterial diseases listed by the Health Ministry also have symptoms that can be confused with COVID-19. It thus urges “high index of suspicion” for diseases prevalent in different parts of the country post monsoon.

The ministry further stated in its guidelines that seasonal epidemic-prone diseases like dengue, malaria and the flu may all present as febrile [showing the symptoms of a fever] illness, with symptoms that mimic that of the coronavirus.

“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,” the health ministry said, listing out the approach to diagnosis of suspected co-infection.

While each of these infections are antigenically distinct, cross-reactions (resulting in false-positive/false-negative results) cannot be totally ruled out, the health ministry said.

“Hence, the tests recommended by ICMR [for coronavirus] and that recommended by the concerned programme divisions (NVBDCP for vector borne diseases [Malaria, Dengue, Chikungunya]) and NCDC (Seasonal Influenza, Leptospirosis, Scrub Typhus)] needs to be followed,” the health ministry said.