Hepatitis D strain in Modasa sample: NICD

The National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD) has confirmed the prevalence of the Hepatitis ‘D’ virus in one of the cases in Modasa...

Written by Teena Thacker | New Delhi/ahmedabad | Published: February 20, 2009 12:51 am

National Institute of Virology and private lab’s report rule it out; health commissioner says Hepatitis B virus has mutated

The National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD) has confirmed the prevalence of the Hepatitis ‘D’ virus in one of the cases in Modasa,even as the National Institute of Virology (NIV) has ruled out its presence in the outbreak.

The five-member NICD team comprising gastroenterologists,epidemiologists and virologist,which visited Gujarat on Monday after reports of the cases and the deaths started pouring in,has confirmed the presence of the Hepatitis D virus,also known as “Delta”,in one of the samples collected from the affected area.

“We had collected about 10 samples,which include blood as well as serum from the dead and the critical patients. One of the samples has shown the prevalence of the Hepatitis D virus. The report will be sent to the state department soon,” a senior NICD official told Newsline.

Elsewhere,NIV and a private laboratory report submitted to the Gujarat government,has,so far,ruled out the presence of Hepatitis D virus in the Modasa outbreak.

Dr Vidya Arankale from NIV said,“We had collected about five samples and all have been tested positive for Hepatitis B.”

Even Gujarat Health Commissioner Dr Amarjit Singh said that so far they only know that the Hepatitis B virus has mutated to a dangerous strain,causing high fatality.

“The NIV report has categorically ruled out the presence of the Hepatitis D virus,and so has the Mumbai-based private laboratory. There has been some genetic mutation in the Hepatitis B virus,which is turning out to be fatal,” he said,adding that NICD has not informed them about the occurrence of the Hepatitis D virus.

The Modasa town has reported 25 deaths and more than 85 positive cases,which is the first of its reported outbreak in country so far.

The state health authorities have now sought the assistance of one more NIV team.

The Hepatitis D virus is found to occur only in the presence of the Hepatitis B virus. It has rarely been reported in India. The incubation period of Hepatitis B is supposed to be around six months,while it is 3 – 7 weeks for Hepatitis D. So far,no treatment exists for the Hepatitis D virus (HDV),experts say.

Dr S K Thakur,consultant hepatologist at Sitaram Bhartia,Delhi said: “Hepatitis D is very rare and is found more in the Mediterranean countries. We don’t even talk about this virus in India. It deteriorates the condition of the patient and makes the outcome more complicated.”

Since the virus is not commonly seen in India,experts suspect it might have been transmitted from some other country. “This virus is very rare to be found in our set up,so it’s definitely a cause of concern,” said Dr C S Pandav from Community Medicine,All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS).

A senior doctor at AIIMS said: “Hepatitis B is a chronic infection,but the severity increases when a person gets infected by both Hepatitis D and B viruses. The D virus cannot survive on its own. We don’t even remember when traces of this virus were found in the county earlier,so one can easily assume how rare it is.”

Now that the Health Ministry has been alerted about the rarest of the rare virus strain,a team will be sent again to review the situation.

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