The Pune-based National Institute of Virology (NIV) has confirmed Indias first cases of the deadly Crimean Congo Haemorrhagic Fever (CCHF) from Sanand,near Ahmedabad.
The virus has so far killed three people,including a woman who first picked it up,and the doctor and a nurse who treated her at a private hospital in Ahmedabad. As of Tuesday evening,two more patients had been hospitalised.
The NIV is testing some 50 samples from the area,and the Gujarat government,warned of a possible outbreak, has begun a screening exercise in the area,covering about 16,000 villagers.
The NIV was able to isolate the CCHF virus within 15 hours of getting the samples from Sanand. We have alerted the Gujarat authorities that the virus is highly infectious and immediate precautions need to be taken, Dr A C Mishra,Director,NIV, said.
CCHF is a viral haemorrhagic fever of the nairovirus group and spreads through the aerosol route. Symptoms include high fever and a drop in platelet count. Mortality rates can be as high as 90 per cent,said Dr Mishra.
The first victim was a woman,Amina Momin,of Kolat village near Sanand town,on January 3. Her death was followed by the deaths,on January 13,of Dr Gagan Senke of Shalby Hospital in Ahmedabad,who was treating Amina,and then,today,of the nurse attending to Amina.
Gujarat Health Minister Jay Narayan Vyas said one patient is under surveillance at the isolation ward of Ahmedabad Civil Hospital; another case has been reported at Sterling Hospital in Ahmedabad. A team of experts from Delhis National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) is rushing to Gujarat,Vyas said.
CCHF has symptoms similar to dengue,and occurs in cattle,sheep and goats. Outbreaks in humans,when they occur,spread very rapidly,Dr Mishra said.
The virus causes multi-organ failures and affects the brain,resulting in epileptic convulsions and finally,death. The disease is endemic in many countries in Africa,Europe and Asia,and cases or outbreaks were reported in Kosovo,Albania,Iran,Pakistan,and South Africa in 2001. No case has ever been reported in India before.