12-year-old Colaba boy may be city’s first hantavirus casualty

Hantavirus, which has never been officially recorded in Mumbai, claimed a 12-year-old boy from Colaba on Saturday.

The virus has been recirculating in the country since a decade and doctors say solitary cases have occurred in Mumbai as well. (As hantavirus pulmonary syndrome is not a notifiable disease, doctors don’t need to send reports to the civic corporation.)

Transmission electron micrograph of the Sin Nombre Hantavirus. Photo Credit:Content Providers(s): CDC/Cynthia Goldsmith

On Saturday, BMC officials said they would wait for a confirmatory test from the National Institute of Virology (NIV) in Pune before labelling the case as that of hantavirus pulmonary syndrome.

If confirmed, civic executive health officer Dr Padmaja Keskar said this could be the first case of hantavirus in Mumbai. “The child had tested positive for leptospirosis on Thursday. The hantavirus test results came the next day. So, we are going to consider it a case of leptospirosis until the NIV report confirms it,” she told TOI.

Tardeo’s Bhatia Hospital, where the child was admitted till Friday, got a positive IgM test for hantavirus from Metropolis Laboratory. IgM tests reveal antibodies for a virus.

Dr Aditya Agrawal, a chest specialist with Bhatia Hospital in Tardeo, said the child was brought to him on September 28 with breathlessness and fever. “He had been to three doctors over five days before that,” he said. The child was admitted to Bhatia Hospital the next day as his breathlessness worsened. In fact, he needed ventilator support within a few days thereafter.

The hospital paediatrician Dr V Samdhani said the medical team suspected hantavirus because the child was brought in with bleeding in the lungs. “That is a characteristic associated with a hantavirus infection,” he said. The child went through three rounds of tests for dengue, leptospirosis and malaria, but each came negative.

“It was only on Thursday that we got a leptospirosis positive report. The hantavirus test came positive on Friday,” said Dr Agrawal. The parents, though, wanted to shift the child to their native town of Gulbarga the same day. “Unfortunately, he died while being transferred in an ambulance with ventilator support,” the doctor added.

The BMC swung into action immediately on hearing of the boy’s death. As hantavirus is spread by rats, civic health teams checked over 8,000 people in the Colaba slum pocket where the child lived. “We found two cases of fever and have stepped up rat-control activities,” said Dr Keskar. While hantavirus can spread from rat to humans, there haven’t yet been cases of human to human transmission.

Incidentally, two cases of hantaviruses have been reported by a couple of doctors in the past six years. A doctor said laboratories have found at least a dozen cases during the time.

SOURCE: TNN | Times Of India