Suspecting possible mutations of the H1N1 virus, the Gujarat Health Department has sent samples for study of the virus pattern from the state to the National Institute of Virology (NIV) in Pune and the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) in New Delhi.
Confirming this, Health Commissioner J P Gupta said, “There have been talks of mutations of this deadly virus though nothing substantial can be proved so far. For this, samples from the state have been sent to NIV in Pune and NCDC in Delhi. Studies are being conducted on the possible mutations, spread and pattern of H1N1 virus.”
However, the state government is not entirely dependent on the national institutes for studying the virus pattern and prevalence. Witnessing an increasing number of cases each day, the Health Department has constituted 10 study areas under two categories — clinical and community related — to analyse how the virus is spreading in the state.
“Areas like effectiveness of drugs and protocol are some that would be studied under the clinical aspects of the virus while its spread and prevalence pattern is to be analysed under the community side of the study to be conducted to find out how the spread is happening,” added Gupta.
The study would be conducted by all the six government medical colleges in the state. These include BJ Medical College in Ahmedabad, Government Medical College in Vadodara, M P Shah Medical College in Jamnagar, Government Medical College in Surat, PDU Medical College in Rajkot and Government Medical College in Bhavnagar.
The NIV was designated as one of the collaborating laboratories of the World Health Organisation (WHO) in 1967 and it started functioning as the regional centre of the WHO for South-East Asia for arbovirus studies from 1969.
The National Institute of Virology, one of the major institutes of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), has been functioning as a WHO collaborating centre for arbovirus reference and research since 1974. In 1995, it was redesignated as the WHO Collaborating Centre for Arbovirus and Haemorrhagic Fever Reference and Research and Rapid Diagnosis of Viral Diseases. NIV is also the National Centre for Hepatitis and Influenza while National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Delhi, is under Directorate General of Health Services, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
So far, till Monday, a total of 5,715 Swine flu cases have been reported from Gujarat. Of these, 347 have died (nearly 6 per cent). On Monday, 92 fresh cases and five new deaths were reported from various districts.
With as many as 2,156 cases and 75 deaths, Ahmedabad continues to record highest number of deaths and cases in the state. A total of five deaths were reported one each from districts of Ahmedabad, Kutch, Rajkot, Jamnagar and Morbi.
3 new centres
To deal with the increasing number of samples and cases, the state government has also decided to open three more testing centres.
“These would be opened in nearly a month’s time. It is not only for the cases being recorded at present but also to ease the burden on the existing centres in the future,” said Health Commissioner J P Gupta.
The new centres would be opened in Jamnagar, Bhavnagar and Vadodara. At present, there are five testing centres for Swine flu in the state – two in Ahmedabad (Sola and Civil Hospital), on each in Rajkot, Bhuj and Surat. This would add up to a total eight centres in seven districts across the state.