Research into rota virus gains ground

Chennai: “About one-third of severe diarrhoea is caused by rota virus in Chennai,” stated Vellore Christian Medical College (CMC), Gastrointestinal Science Professor, Dr Gagandeep Kang, and a principal investigator involved in a country-wide research to study the efficacy of the vaccine administered to treat it.

It is learnt that all children are infected with the virus: for the first couple of times the children would suffer diarrhoea and in certain cases, the children grow immune to it and will not be sick anymore.

However, according to Gagandeep Kang the incidence is not as severe as in other Indian states.

“Tamilnadu has been progressing well in bringing down incidences of the viral infection as it has good public health indicators compared to other States. Access to health care is much better,” she said.

Giving an instance, she stated, “Although there are children getting admitted to ICH due to it, there are very few children who die because of it.”

Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has been conducting multi-centric research project throughout the country in collaboration with regional hospitals and National Institute of Epidemiology (NIE). In Chennai, the Institute of Child Health and Hospital for Children (ICH&HC) is conducting research since 2016 and the analysis is done by Christian Medical College (CMC), Vellore.

A long time ago, a surveillance was set up with NIE to study the incidences of diarrhoea prevalence in children where the stool samples was analysed to identify if it was caused by rotavirus.

“We are continuing to monitor the number of cases so that we can measure the effect of vaccine. The testing is done at NIE and CMC does the coordination,” said Gagandeep Kang.

“The virus is the leading cause for diarrhoea and deaths due to it in children less than five years of age. An investigation was conducted by the Central team to identify the widespread incidence of rotavirus and an Indian-made vaccine was introduced by the government,” said ICH & HC Pediatrics Senior Assistant Professor, Dr D Priyadharshini, who is one of the co-investigators at ICH of this on-going research.

Asked about the process, Priyadharshini stated that the stool samples of children more than one month to 59 months of age will be taken and sent for analysis. “The total number of samples cannot be defined and ranges between 20 and 40. It could be a little high during monsoon as diarrhoea is common then,” she said.

It is learnt that it will take one or two years to complete the study and arrive at a conclusion.

With this on-going study, the team tries to prevent the occurrence of severe diarrhoea as it is already identified that the deaths have been low in Tamilnadu.

Bhavani Prabhakar