Confirming the first case in Ahmedabad of human infection caused by Crimean–Congo Hemorrhagic Fever (CCHF) virus, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) on Wednesday asked people not to panic as any possible outbreak of the disease could be controlled by proper hygiene and infection control measures in hospitals where the patients are admitted.
A six-member team of specialists from the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) will visit Ahmedabad on Thursday.
Tests conducted at the National Institute of Virology (under ICMR, Pune) have confirmed the presence of the CCHF virus in blood as well as urine samples of a patient.
While reports from Gujarat claimed three persons from Sanad had died and a few others were being treated for the deadly disease, the Centre did not give out any figure of the dead or those affected.
“After proper control measure, the outbreaks can be successfully handled locally. In this instance, awareness among the doctors and also prompt diagnosis at NIV is an evidence of the competence of our system and there should be no reason for any panic reaction,” the ICMR statement said.
However, as of now there is no medicine or vaccine that can prevent or cure the disease. The CCHF virus is known to be transmitted among animals through ticks. It does not affect animals, but kills 20 to 40 per cent of humans who contract it.
The ICMR added that typically, one to three days after the incubation period following a tick bite (5-6 days after exposure to infected blood or tissues), flu-like symptoms appear, which may resolve after a week. In up to 75 per cent of cases, however, signs of hemorrhage appear within 3-5 days of the onset of illness. Patients usually begin to recover after 9-10 days, but it can lead to death in some cases.
The CCHF virus has earlier been reported from Africa, the Balkans, the Middle East and Pakistan. There is serological evidence of CCHF infection being present in India in animals.
Reports from Ahmedabad suggest that a woman died of the disease on January 3, followed by the doctor and the nurse who had attended on her. The doctors took the nurse's sample which tested positive for the Congo virus. Fifty others are being tested for the disease.
The Gujarat government has already warned of a possible outbreak and started screening process in 16,000 villages.
The virus is said to be highly infectious and causes multi-organ failures after affecting the brain, resulting in convulsions.