Dozens of People Die In
India From Unknown Virus
Doctors at Sassoon General Hospital in Pune, India are worried.
Thirty-five patients with swine flu-like symptoms died in the last
45 days at the hospital, and not one of them tested positive for
swine flu. The doctors still don't know what caused the death of
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"We requested the National Institute of Virology (NIV) to
check tissue samples from these patients for 8 to 10 combinations
of the HN virus subtype like H1N2 or H2N2. It is extremely important
that the virus is identified so we can decide on the course of
treatment," said Dr Arun Jamkar, dean of Sassoon Hospital,
which has been dubbed as the epicentre of the swine flu activity
in the state.
On October 28, doctors at Sassoon shared the data on these deaths
with the Center for Disease Control, Atlanta, USA, and virologists
across the world in a video conference.
Despite repeated attempts, Dr A C Mishra, director of NIV, remained
unavailable for comment. Dr Mandeep Chaddha, deputy director,
NIV, said she wasn't authorized to speak to the media.
Dr Pravin Shengare, joint director, Directorate of Medical Education
and Research, who attended the video conference, said, "The
NIV's report won't have an effect on vaccine production, but it
is important to know if another dominant virus sub-type is circulating.
If this is the case, a detailed analysis of deaths that occurred
due to unexplained symptoms will have to be undertaken,"
"If it is found that there is a different strain of the
virus, then that strain should ideally be incorporated in the
H1N1 vaccine that is being developed by NIV. It is also important
to understand how potent that virus is," said JP Muliyil,
senior scientist and epidemiologist at Christian Medical College,
Shengare, however, pointed out that the WHO had recommended that
a monovalent vaccine against H1N1 be developed. Modifying a vaccine
so it provides protection from other viruses would take too much
time and effort, he felt. "Even if a new virus sub-type is
circulating, the H1N1 vaccine that is being developed won't be
useless, as it can still be used to fight swine flu. If there
is another virus, we'll have to deal with it separately,"
Reference Sources: mid-day.com