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Indian Express
30 April 2010
By Anuradha Mascarenhas

Rising temperatures and water shortage lead to increase in cases; paediatricians advise use of rotavirus vaccine
April 29 thanks to the soaring temperatures and water shortage in the city, there has been an increase in the number of cases of viral diarrhoea among children. The Indian Academy of Paediatricians, Pune branch has advised the use of the rotavirus vaccine to prevent cases of acute viral gastroenteritis. According to Dr Shishir Modak, president of the city unit of IAP, the use of the new rotavirus vaccine can help in the prevention of diarrhoea.

Dr Umesh Vaidya, head of the neo–natal intensive care unit of KEM hospital informed that the onset of summer has seen several cases of diarrhoea among babies and small children.

The paediatrician examines at least 5–6 cases of viral diarrhoea among children on a daily basis. “Fever for around 45 days is a common symptom,” says Vaidya.

Dr A Kinikar, paediatrician and associate professor at Sassoon General hospital said that seasonal changes also contribute to an increase in the cases as water shortage may lead to dilution of milk given to babies “There are more than five cases being examined daily at the out–patient department and it is not necessary to admit them to the hospital.” “Home–based care by giving the required amount of fluids to the child can also control viral infection,” she said.

As per World Health Organisation estimates, about 527,000 young children die from rotavirus–induced diarrhoea annually in lowerincome countries of Africa and Asia.

Dr Sharad Agharkhedkar, president of the Indian Medical Association (Pune unit) who is involved in assessing the incidence of rotavirus diarrhoea said that 30–40 per cent of diarrhoea is caused by the rotavirus.

Initial symptoms include vomiting and then diarrhoea leading to severe dehydration and lactose intolerance.

“Now, a rotavirus vaccine is quite effective in preventing cases of acute viral gastroenteritis,” he pointed out.Dr A C Mishra, Director of National Institute of Virology which has conducted new research to broaden the understanding of rotavirus genetics said that while a vaccine may not be cent per cent effective, it can lead to a decrease in the burden of the disease.

Dr Shobha Chitambar, Deputy Director, NIV whose study has been published in the Journal of Medical Virology in December 2009 said that a total of 1591 fecal specimens collected in 1993–96 and 200407 were collected from adolescents and adults with acute gastroenteritis in Pune for the detection of rotavirus.

Group A rotavirus was detected in 8.6 per cent and 16.2 per cent of adolescents during the two phases of the study and in 5.2 per cent and 17.2 per cent of the adults.

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