ICMR funds research on bird flu virus at CMC, Vellore

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New Delhi, Apr 24 (UNI) Indian Council of Medical Research is funding a project on Avian influenza virus H5, H7, H9, which cause bird flu to get in-depth knowledge about the spread of the virus.

ICMR funds a project 'Molecular and serological investigations of Hanta virus infections in Vellore district of south India' at Christian Medical College, Vellore. The ongoing study has been initiated in September, 2006 and till date 360 health blood donors, 151 patients with chronic renal diseases, 99 members of the Irula tribe (occupational hazard) and 51 warehouse workers occupational hazard have been tested, Health Minister Anbumoni Ramadoss informed the Lok Sabha in a written reply today.

The irulas had a statistically significant seropositivity (11 per cent) compared to healthy blood donors (4 per cent) positive by two serological assays. In 6 (2.6 per cent) human patients with acute febrile illness of 266-tested Polymerase Chain Reaction [PCR] was positive for hantavirus nucleic acid. The PCR products showed a 93-97 per cent nucleotide homology with Hantaan virus (HTNV) on Phylogenetic analysis. The HTNV is most prevalent virus in South East Asia, China, Korea and Russia. There was no mortality among these hantavirus positive individuals.

Avian influenza virus H5 and H7 viruses can be distinguished as 'low pathogenic' and 'high pathogenic' forms on the basis of genetic features of the virus and the severity of the illness they cause in poultry. Influenza H9 virus has been identified only in a 'low pathogenicity' form. Each of these three avian influenza A viruses (H5, H7, and H9) theoretically can be partnered with any one of nine neuraminidase surface proteins; thus, there are potentially nine different forms of each subtype ( H5N1, H5N2, H5N3, H5N9). The virus causing alarm at present is H5N1 strain of the Influenza A virus.

Meanwhile, containment and culling operations were on to check the spread of bird flu in West Tripura district. The disease outbreak was notified by the Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries has notified fresh outbreak of Avian Influenza in poultry in village Hatearra OF Mohanpur block on April 21.

The Central Rapid Response Team from MOHFW is assisting the State authorities in containment operations.

Active house-to-house surveillance is continuing. The health teams have covered a population of 11803 in the 0-3 km zone.

71 people with fever/URI have been detected in community and none of them had history of contact with infected poultry. There is no suspect case of human avian influenza detected through active surveillance.

UNI AJ SB AS1639

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