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NCDC launches probe after first bird flu death reported in country

New Delhi: The National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC)’s surveillance unit in Haryana has launched an epidemiological investigation after an 11-year-old boy from Gurugram was reported as the country’s first documented case and death of bird flu (H5N1) in humans
PUBLISHED ON JUL 22, 2021 01:02 AM IST

New Delhi: The National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC)’s surveillance unit in Haryana has launched an epidemiological investigation after an 11-year-old boy from Gurugram was reported as the country’s first documented case and death of bird flu (H5N1) in humans.

According to the Union ministry of health and family welfare, an NCDC team comprising epidemiologists and microbiologists was constituted and immediately visited the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi, where the patient underwent treatment, and Gurugram for undertaking the epidemiological assessment.

“NCDC received information on July 16 from AIIMS, Delhi, along with a lab report from the National Institute of Virology (NIV) Pune. The information was communicated to the IDSP State Surveillance Unit (SSU), Haryana to initiate an epidemiological investigation into the case. The matter was also reported to the animal husbandry department…The state health department and the animal husbandry department officials are also involved in the investigation,” the health ministry said in a statement on Wednesday.

The team of doctors and nurses, who treated the patient, is being monitored since July 16 for development of any influenza like illness, with no one being reported symptomatic till date. Contact tracing was undertaken and family members, close contacts and health care workers are under close surveillance.

According to the health ministry, none of the close contacts have any related symptoms. Contact tracing, an active search for any symptomatic case, has been carried out in the hospital and the area where the patient resided. The state has been asked to carry out information, education, and communication activities for the general public, and to report any symptomatic case to the health authorities concerned.

However, no symptomatic individuals were found in the area.

The boy was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) in AIIMS, towards the end of June. He developed symptoms of fever, cough, coryza (inflammation of the mucous membrane in the nose), and breathing difficulty, soon after induction therapy for AML. He was diagnosed as AML with febrile neutropenia (low white blood cells) with pneumonia and shock that progressed to cute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS).

The boy was then admitted to AIIMS on July 2, where he suffered from multi organ dysfunction and died on July 12.

“Department of microbiology AIIMS received the Bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) for respiratory panel testing on 7 and 11 July 2021. The sample has tested Positive for both Influenza A and Influenza B. It was also negative for SARS COV-2 and other respiratory viruses. Subtyping for Influenza A remained inconclusive with available reagents for H1N1 and H3N2 at AIIMS. So, the samples were sent to NIV on 13 July,” said the statement.

At NIV, both the samples were tested for Influenza A and Influenza B along with Influenza A seasonal (H1N1, H1N1 pdm09 and H3N2), non-seasonal avian subtypes (H5, H7, H9 and H10) by real-time PCR. The result showed that the sample is positive for A/H5 and Type B Victoria lineage. Whole genome sequencing and virus isolation is in process, the statement added.

The animal husbandry department has also not found any suspected cases of bird flu in the area and has enhanced surveillance in a 10km zone as a precautionary measure. Further, epidemiological investigation by NCDC, involving animal husbandry department and State government surveillance unit, is underway and appropriate public health measures have been instituted, the statement added.

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