With the rise in cases of fever, especially influenza-like illness, the Directorate of Public Health (DPH) and Preventive Medicine has issued guidelines for the prevention and control of the seasonal flu, and clinical management of patients. Only patients falling under Category C should be tested for influenza.

According to the guidelines, people suffering from flu-like symptoms should be classed under Categories A, B and C. Those having a mild fever and cough/sore throat with or without body ache, headache, diarrhoea and vomiting fall under Category A, and need not be tested for influenza. They should be isolated at home, and require symptomatic management, while treatment with Oseltamivir, the recommended drug, is not required.

Those having symptoms outlined for Category A, along with a high-grade fever or severe sore throat or high-risk conditions such as children aged under five, people above 65 years of age, pregnant women, persons with co-morbidities and persons with immuno-deficiency or on long-term steroid therapy, fall under Category B. They need not be tested, but can be treated with Oseltamivir as per schedule, along with broad-spectrum antibiotics. They should be isolated at home.

Those with symptoms of Categories A and B with one or more of the following fall under Category C: breathlessness, chest pain, drowsiness, fall in blood pressure, sputum in blood, bluish discolouration of nails in adults, and children with flu-like illness with somnolence, high and persistent fever, inability to feed well, convulsions, shortness of breath, breathing difficulty, and worsening of any underlying chronic condition. They should be tested for influenza. They should be treated with Oseltamivir as per the schedule, and broad-spectrum antibiotics. They need immediate hospitalisation and treatment.

Outlining the guidelines for wearing masks, the directorate said that in a community setting, medical personnel in screening areas, health workers involved in community surveillance and the public should use triple layer masks. The DPH recommended vaccination for prioritised groups – healthcare workers, pregnant women (irrespective of duration of pregnancy), persons with chronic illnesses and those who are immunocompromised, and children who have chronic diseases such as asthma, neuro-developmental conditions and heart diseases, and who are immunocompromised.

It said vaccines were desirable for the elderly and children aged six months to eight years. Yearly vaccination with the World Health Organisation-recommended quadrivalent/trivalent vaccines for the 2023-2024 influenza season was advised, the directorate said.

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