Express News Service
NEW DELHI: The Union Health Ministry on Wednesday announced that an epidemiological investigation has been launched into the death of a 11-year-old boy, the first confirmed fatality due to bird flu in India and said that his close contacts have been put under surveillance.
The child from Gurugram, Haryana, had been diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia in June and developed symptoms of fever, cough and breathing difficulty, soon after an induction therapy for cancer. He was admitted to AIIMS-Delhi on July 2 and passed away ten days later due to multiple organ dysfunction.
Apart from AML, the boy was presented with febrile neutropenia (fever with low neutrophils) with pneumonia and shock, which progressed to acute respiratory distress syndrome. The health ministry, in a statement said that upon testing it was found that the child had both Influenza A and Influenza B but was negative for SARS COV-2 and other respiratory viruses.
As the subtyping for Influenza A remained inconclusive with available reagents for H1N1 and H3N2 at AIIMS, the samples collected from the child were sent to the National Institute of Virology under the ICMR on July 13.
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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- a type of bird flu- and type B Victoria lineage. The whole genome sequencing and virus isolation is in process.
Following the results, the National Centre for Disease Control which runs the Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme, has activated its Haryana state unit to initiate an epidemiological investigation into the case and the matter was also reported to the animal husbandry department.
The government said that based on the available information, the team of doctors and nurses treating the patient are being monitored since July 16 for development of any influenza-like illness but no one has reported symptoms till date. “Contact tracing was undertaken and family members, close contacts and health care workers are under close surveillance,” said the ministry adding that none of the close contacts have any symptoms.
Contact tracing, an active search for any symptomatic case has been carried out in the hospital and area where the case resided. The Centre also said that there are no symptomatic individuals in the area at present.
Also, said the government, animal husbandry department has not found any suspected cases of bird flu in the area and has enhanced surveillance in a 10 km 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,” said the ministry.