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All systems in place for virus detection,says NIV

The National Institute of Virology (NIV),which is also recognised by WHO as the country’s national influenza centre,is part of the global influenza surveillanza network. Director of NIV Dr A C Mishra...

Written by Anuradha Mascarenhas | Pune |
May 1, 2009 1:48:56 am

The National Institute of Virology (NIV),which is also recognised by WHO as the country’s national influenza centre,is part of the global influenza surveillanza network. Director of NIV Dr A C Mishra,who is attending the deliberations and discussions in Geneva on what steps to take following a swine flu outbreak that has already killed more than 150. When contacted in Geneva,Mishra told The Indian Express that they were closely monitoring the situation.

India is a part of the global surveillance network and has to be alert to various outbreaks in the neighbouring countries,Mishra said. “In the past,we have been spared of human infection cases following outbreaks like SARS and avian influenza. However,our systems are in place to detect and diagnose any other virus,’’ NIV officials said on the condition of anonymity.

Researchers are amazed at the genetic make up of the virus. It is a swine H1N1 strain that combines human,swine and influenza virus. The virus seems to have first taken hold in Mexico in mid-March. It was identified when Mexican authorities sent samples from a flu patient that it could not subtype to the Canadian Public Health Agency. The CDC announced the existence of the virus on April 23.

The genetics of the new virus are so novel that humans are unlikely to have any immunity to it,feel scientists at Serum Institute of India — who have presently tied up with NIV in a WHO project to develop the avian influenza vaccine.

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Executive director Dr S S Jadhav said that this new strain is a lethal combination of avian,swine and human flu. Indians do not consider seasonal flu as a threat unlike in countries like Europe and USA. As and when the government declares swine flu as a threat to the country then we will also request WHO to provide proper strains and reagents to make a vaccine. So far at the global level,discussions are under way on the vaccine to be produced for the new swine flu strain.

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