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Times of India
05 August 2010
Ahmedabad, India

The Chandipura virus has again raised its ugly head in Gujarat. In an official communique, the state health department said the disease has already killed 17. The virus targets children and spreads through a pest called sandfly.

An early diagnosis of the symptoms is necessary as the fatality rate is high in case of the Chandipura virus. In scientific parlance, the disease is called viral encephalitis. In all, 29 cases have been detected by the state health department in Kheda and Vadodara districts. In recent past, Chandipura virus had struck the eastern parts of Gujarat in 2004, killing 18.

State health minister Jaynarayan Vyas has assured that the spread of the virus will be brought under control as immediate pest control measures are underway. “The virus has arrived untimely. But there is no need to panic as the situation can be brought under control. We are in constant touch with National Institute of Virology (NIV), Pune on this. Our only request is that children with symptoms of the disease should immediately be taken to the doctor at public health centres,” said Vyas.

Chandipura virus patients develop sudden high fever accompanied by convulsions and vomiting, which can lead to unconsciousness. Once the virus enters the blood stream, it localises the brain, forcing white blood cells to invade the brain tissue to battle the infection. This results in swelling and can cause brain damage and even death. The condition is called viral encephalitis. Fever, headaches, clumsiness, drowsiness, vomiting and convulsions are among the symptoms related to the illness. The elderly, infants and HIV patients are at risk the most.

Clinically, it is after four days of the onset of symptoms that antibody is developed in patients.

“Children are the worst-hit, with 80 per cent deaths occurring within 24 hours of hospitalisation. Since June, Chandrapur and Ghadchiroli districts in Maharashtra have been affected by the virus. In Gujarat, we are identifying clusters where the sandfly may proliferate and would conduct house-to-house surveillance. We will also spray anti–vector agents within and around 5 km of any given potential disease cluster,” said a senior health official.

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