Thiruvananthapuram | Days after an outbreak of Zika virus was reported from northern Kannur district, the Kerala health department issued a directive on Monday urging people to remain vigilant against the mosquito-borne disease.
The department said that symptoms such as fever, headache, body pain, joint pain, and red eyes should be taken seriously.
It urged the public to promptly inform healthcare workers if they notice these symptoms.
The first infection was reported in the Thalassery area of Kannur district on October 30, and after that, a medical camp was organised in the area on November 1 during which 24 samples were collected and sent for testing.
"If Zika virus symptoms are observed in patients, healthcare providers must give them special attention," the statement said.
The statement was issued after a high-level meeting chaired by Health Minister Veena George held here reviewed the Zika virus cases in Thalassery. Currently, eight Zika virus cases have been confirmed there.
The department said if pregnant women are affected by the virus, there is a possibility of birth defects, such as microcephaly, in the unborn baby. Therefore, pregnant women in areas with reported cases of the disease should receive special monitoring, it said.
Microcephaly is a condition where a baby is born with a small head or the head stops growing after birth.
The department directed doctors to conduct separate examinations for pregnant women affected by fever.
It said the Zika virus is primarily transmitted by the Aedes mosquito, but it can also be transmitted through blood donation and sexual contact.
The department called for an intensification of activities to prevent mosquito breeding and fogging to destroy them.
It also directed schools, households, and institutions in Kannur district to observe "dry days" on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday to prevent mosquito breeding.
Observing a "dry day" involves taking measures to prevent water from stagnating, which helps in avoiding the breeding of mosquitoes.