Chandipura virus came to light when blood samples from two patients in Maharashtra’s Chandipura village were tested and found positive.
What is this virus?
- Named after the town in Maharashtra where the discovery was made and isolated, Chandipura virus is known to cause inflammation of the brain, progress rapidly from an influenza-like illness to coma and death.
- The Chandipura Vesiculovirus (CHPV), first discovered by two virologists of the Pune-based National Institute of Virology (NIV) in 1965, predominantly infects children.
- The virus spreads mainly through the bite of sand flies, and sometimes through mosquitoes.
- Animal studies show that the virus affects neurons and causes neurodegeneration.
- Sand flies, which are found in mud and in cracks of sand houses, mostly breed during monsoon and pre-monsoon months which is when the cases are generally reported.
- The likely vector (or carrier) of the virus is the female phlebotomine sandfly. The virus was detected in sandflies in Senegal, Nigeria as well as in India.
- The virus is known to cause inflammation of the brain.
- CHPV belongs to the Rhabdoviridae family in the order Mononegavirales of the genus Vesiculovirus.
- Interestingly, its continuing mutating trend has enhanced its lethality to cause human infections, unlike its genetic cousin, the vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV).
- Sudden high fever accompanied by headaches and altered consciousness
- Vomiting and nausea
Things to remember
- The virus predominantly infects children between the ages of 2-16, spreading through the bite of a sandfly, and in some cases, even the mosquito during the monsoon and pre-monsoon season.
- It is distantly related to the virus that causes rabies and is known to have a case fatality between 55-75 %.
- There is no specific medicine for its treatment. However with timely detection, hospitalisation and symptomatic treatment is given to the patient, which could help save lives.
- Prevention is the best method to suppress CHPV infection. According to NCBI (National Center for Biotechnology Information), for the containment of the disease transmitting vectors, it is essential to maintain good nutrition, health, hygiene and awareness in rural areas.