The virology laboratory at PGI is soon going to be equipped to test samples for the presence of H5N1, an avian flu virus, in humans.
At present, nasopharyngeal swabs of suspected cases of avian flu are sent to the National Centre for Disease Control in New Delhi and the reports come in 24 to 72 hours.
Dr V K Gagneja, Chandigarh’s Director of Health Services, said, “Sampling kits which are required for testing the presence of H5N1 virus in human beings will reach PGI soon.
It has been decided that in the first 15 cases, two samples will be taken, one of which will be sent to PGI and another to NCDC. If results of both test centres match, then the responsibility of sampling and testing will be handed over to PGI.”
On Sunday, samples of three patients were sent to NCDC, and their medical reports have come out to be negative.
“I checked on the telephone with the officials in NCDC and they confirmed that the results are negative. All three patients are free from avian flu virus,” Dr Gagneja said.
Samples of one person from the Government Medical College and Hospital in Sector 32, and two from the Government Multi-Speciality Hospital in Sector 16 were sent on Sunday.
The sample of a two-year-old child was taken at GMSH-16 on Monday and sent to Delhi. “The parents were a little apprehensive about the health of the child who had come in close contact with the birds at Sukhna Lake,” said an official, adding that the child was not kept in the isolation ward as there was no risk and the parents took him home.
In order to ensure proper co-ordination, Dr Gagneja held a meeting with senior health officials from the city, Panchkula and Mohali. Members of a Central government team were present.
“The purpose of holding the meeting was to ensure co-ordination among all hospitals and to prepare them for dealing with a situation if people start coming in large numbers enquiring about avian flu,” the DHS said.
A training session will be held at GMSH-16 on Tuesday where members from the Central government team will educate health professionals about avian flu.
Experts from the Bhopal-based National Institute of High Security Animal Diseases are arriving in the city on Tuesday to help in the detection of the source of infection that led to the death of birds at the Sukhna Lake, and also to help in further investigations.