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Girl dead, has Hantavirus hit India?

india Updated: Aug 04, 2008 23:49 IST
Utpal Parashar
Utpal Parashar
Hindustan Times
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The death of one girl from high fever and severe lung infection and another hospitalized, suffering from the same symptoms, has sent the health department in Uttarakhand into a tizzy over suspected spread of the deadly Hantavirus.

Authorities at Mahant Indresh Hospital had claimed that two girls — one from Dehradun and another from Tehri — were admitted some days ago with very high fever and severe infection in their lungs, both symptoms of Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS).

The patients were later shifted to Himalayan Institute Hospital at Jollygrant for better treatment after they started complaining of stomach problems and difficulty in breathing. One of the girls later died.

Dr Ved Prakash, director of Mahant Indresh Hospital, said the symptoms seen in both the girls strongly indicated that they were infected by Hantavirus, a deadly disease that spreads through rats and lizards and could lead to bubonic plague.

Taking note of the death, the health department sent a team of doctors to the hospital and the Himalayan Institute Hospital on Sunday to investigate and take blood samples from the surviving patient.

"The blood samples will be sent to National Institute of Virology, Pune and the National Institute for Communicable Diseases in New Delhi for confirmation. We can say whether the death was due to HPS only after we get the reports," said Dr GC Baunthiyal, CMO, Dehradun.

Doctors in Delhi also want to wait till the report from Pune comes in. "This disease is very rare in India. Though some people have been claiming that the virus is in India but it needs to be confirmed by NIV, Pune," said Dr Randeep Guleria, professor of medicine and pulmonologist, AIIMS.