EKM norovirus infection: No need to panic, says health department

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Kochi: At a time when norovirus infection has been reported in Ernakulam, the Kerala government on Monday warned the people of the potential gravity of the threat but maintained that there was no need to panic. The health department has beefed up preventive-awareness activities in wake of this.

During earlier hours of the day, Class 1 and 2 of a school at Kakkanad near here were found infected and three children are now under treatment.

A senior medical officer of the district said 62 students and a few parents of the school exhibited symptoms following which two samples were sent for testing at the State Public Laboratory.

"The health condition of the children is stable. The Health Department personnel inspected the school which is now temporarily closed. We are holding online awareness sessions to the children and parents. The classrooms and the toilets have now been sanitised," the District Medical Officer said in a statement.

The department said the disease is highly contagious and urged the people to maintain hygiene.

As per WHO, norovirus is a viral illness that is the most common cause of acute gastroenteritis globally with symptoms including acute onset diarrhoea and vomiting.

Norovirus can be transmitted through contaminated food, water, and surfaces, the Health Department said, adding that the initial symptoms are vomiting and/or diarrhoea, head and body aches.

According to the health department, those having symptoms should surveil, isolate and quarantine. Lots of water should be consumed to prevent dehydration and patients must take rest at home.

Sometimes, the patients will have to be admitted to the hospital. If neglected it will become fatal. The treatment for the infection is non-specific and the patient has to be treated for symptoms. Proper treatment can help the infected ones to recover swiftly.

Hands must be washed properly before eating food and drinking water. Water tanks and wells should be chlorinated. Those who are handling animals must take extra care. The other things to do:

  • Ensure personal hygiene and keep the surroundings clean
  • Only drink water that is boiled
  • Properly wash fruits and vegetables before use
  • Don’t consume stale or exposed food items
  • While preparing seafood items wash them properly
Last year, two children were found infected with the same virus at Vizhinjam in Thiruvananthapuram. The Health Department today said precautionary measures have been taken as the virus spreads through contaminated water and food.

With inputs from PTI

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