THE MYSTERY virus that has claimed the lives of 88 children in eastern UP has been identified as the Coxsackie virus. The lethal virus has already afflicted 487 children.
After a fortnight-long study and laboratory tests of the samples of patients, experts at the Sanjay Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences (SGPGIMS), under the guidance of professor in microbiology department, Dr TN Dhole, finally identified the virus that killed children in 12 districts of the State.
Director-general, Medical Health, Dr B Nath, said the team from SGPGIMS had collected 33 samples in Gorakhpur for laboratory tests.
During the tests, the experts found that 28 samples contained coxsackie- B virus and only four samples tested positive for Japanese Encephalitis.
According to Dr Dhole, coxsackie virus belonged to the enterovirus family of viruses. It lived in the human digestive tract and spreads from person to person. Water and food contaminated with the faeces of infected person generally led to spread of the virus from one person to another, he said.
Following the identification of the new virus, the State Health Department has urged the Union Medical Health and Family Welfare Department to dispatch its team to east UP to conduct a study and suggest measures to combat the new virus. According to sources, a-team from the National Institute of Virology, Pune, would visit Gorakhpur on August 20 to conduct a study.
Meanwhile, the report on the new virus has put the Medical Health Department officials on the defensive.
“We prepared ourselves to fight Japanese Encephalitis and have already vaccinated around 70 lakh children in six districts, but the report of the new virus has put the whole exercise on hold,” an officer of the Health Department official.
“There is no vaccine to provide immunity from the coxsackie virus.
Moreover, the drugs prescribed to the patients are costly. The majority of the patients come from the poor strata of society and they can hardly afford the drugs imported from the United States”, said another official.