The country has realised the importance of virology because of recurring instances of viral infections that threatened public health over the last decade. It is gearing to face new outbreaks, said D.T. Mourya, Director, National Institute of Virology, Pune.

Outbreaks such as influenza are mainly the result of climate change and a population that’s constantly on the move, he said.

Dr. Mourya was speaking to The Hindu on the sidelines of the national symposium on “Emerging and re-emerging viral infections” at the Chennai Medical College Hospital and Research centre (CMCH and RC) at Irungalur near here on Friday.

“We cannot eliminate viral diseases; there are only a very few organisms that we can control and seasonal changes are contributing factors to the problem. However, we can work towards preventing outbreaks,” Dr. Mourya said.

Sharing his thoughts on Crimean Congo Hemorrhagic fever (CCHF) that hit Gujarat and Rajasthan, the specialist said that awareness was pivotal in curtailing the virus which was suspected to have spread to other States. Session on “Chikungunya – an Indian epidemic” marked the inaugural of the symposium.

Dr. P. Chitra Rajalakshmi, professor of microbiology, CMCH and RC, who addressed the first session on “Emerging and re-emerging viral infections — a global threat”, said that new viruses were emerging every day and it was time people learnt about viral diseases, their modes of transmission, and national and international organisations that played a major role in tackling them. The two-day symposium, organised by the departments of microbiology, health science research and medical education unit of the college, was sponsored by Indian Council of Medical research (ICMR) and Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR.)

N. Balasubramanian, medical superintendent, and K. Kalaiselvi, dean, CMCH and RC, were present.

The inaugural day had sessions on chikungunya, influenza, viral nephropathy, and HIV-AIDS.