The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has launched a pilot project in Pune to find hidden cases of dengue. The project involves developing a smart electronic surveillance system that might help predict a dengue outbreak, ICMR officials said.
More than 1 lakh dengue cases were recorded in India last year. However, according to ICMR Director General Dr Soumya Swaminathan, the reported cases are just the tip of the iceberg. “To get a true picture of the dengue burden, a pilot project is being rolled out that aims at preparing a smart electronic surveillance system for dengue. Pune has seen large number of dengue cases in the past few years. The effort is to network with all healthcare providers to find hidden cases and identify hotspots in the city,” Dr Swaminathan told The Indian Express.
As part of the project, the team — headed by former director of National Institute of Virology Dr A C Mishra — has collected more than 2,000 serum samples to detect antibodies against the dengue virus in the community and help prepare the electronic surveillance system for the city.
While Dr Mishra, who heads the Interactive Research School for Health Affairs, was unavailable for comment, Dr Sanjay Lalwani, the medical director, said the data was being analysed for dengue immunity. “Several citizens have had exposure to dengue. We want to generate baseline data of immunity levels across age groups at various locations in the city,” Lalwani said.
The ICMR has allocated a grant of Rs 2.5 crore for the project, which involves organisations like Interactive Research School for Health Affairs, a unit of Bharati Vidyapeeth University, Serum Institute of India, Persistent Systems and Pune Municipal Corporation.
Dr Rajeev Dhere, executive director at Serum Institute of India, said, “Finding antibodies against dengue and electronic surveillance will help us during clinical trials to prepare a vaccine against dengue,” he said. Persistent Systems is developing a tool for automatic recording of data on dengue.