While the municipal health department has denied the incidence of hantavirus, a rare but deadly virus similar to the leptospirosis pathogen, in Mumbai, a private diagnostic laboratory in the city that tested blood samples for the presence of the virus found 14 positive cases in the past one-and-half years.
On August 4, Hindustan Times had reported that the blood sample of a Kurla resident , who was admitted to private hospital in Ghatkopar in July, indicated that he had hantavirus. The patient is now cured.
Following the report, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) collected blood samples of the patient and sent it for confirmatory test to the National Institute of Virology (NIV) in Pune, but the reports were negative. Metropolis, a chain of pathology lab across the country, tested as many as 114 suspected samples of hantavirus, of which 14 were positive.
“Ours is a laboratory with pan-India presence and it is not just Mumbai that we receive samples from but from all over the country. And, we have positive cases of hantavirus from all over. In Mumbai alone, from 2014 to now we have had enough positive cases that show that the virus is very much present,” said Dr Nilesh Shah, group president, scientific services and operations, west India, Metropolis.
The BMC said it is unaware about the new cases and it would have to investigate further and contact the lab for details. “We do not have any knowledge about the 14 cases. We will have to get in touch with the lab for further details,” said Dr Mini Khetarpal, chief of epidemiology, BMC.
However, the civic body maintained that hantavirus was not present in the city. “We cannot say for sure that there is hantavirus in light of the new cases that have been brought up. However, in our meeting with Bombay Veterinary College we were assured that no tests revealed the presence of virus in the city,” he added.
“It would be unwise to say that are no hantavirus cases in the city. It is the matter of referring the cases for diagnosis for the said virus and reporting,” said Dr Om Srivastava, infectious diseases expert at Jaslok Hospital.
“In theory, it can be said that the antibodies will be present in the body. However, in this particular case it is unlikely that it can test positive as there has been a significant delay in collecting the blood sample,” he added.