NICD finds hepatitis D strain in Modasa sample

The National Institute of Communicable Diseases has confirmed the prevalence of the Hepatitis “D” virus in one of the cases in Modasa...

Written by Teena Thacker | New Delhi | Published: February 20, 2009 12:11 am

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 included 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 The Indian Express.

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 has said that so far they only know that

the Hepatitis B virus has mutated to a dangerous strain,causing high fatality.

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

The Hepatitis D virus is found to occur only in the presence of the Hepatitis B virus. It has been rarely 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 Singh maintained that NICD had not informed them about the occurrence of Hepatitis D. “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.

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

Dr S K Thakur,consultant hepatologist at Sitaram Bhartia 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 virus. The D virus cannot survive on its own. We don’t even remember when traces of this virus were found in the country earlier,so one can easily assume how rare it is.”

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

(With ENS Ahmedabad)

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