Union government has issued advisories to State Disease Surveillance Units to ensure protection from Ebola virus. The move is part of the threat perception for India, make certain that precautions and preventive measures are taken. State Disease Surveillance Units are alert for early detection and management of travel related cases reported from the community. The laboratory capacity is also strengthened at National Institute of Virology, Pune and National Centre for Disease Control, Delhi, in addition to neuro-virology lab at the NIMHANS, to diagnose this viral disease.
Karnataka health and family welfare department is on a preparedness mode. It has already identified the Nodal Officers and designate hospitals like the Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Chest Diseases with isolation wards to respond to any possible cases. The state’s neuro-virology lab at the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences(NIMHANS) is fully equipped for diagnostic tests and disburse reports on a timely basis.
Dr Harsh Vardhan, Union minister for health and family welfare said that the outbreak of Ebola virus disease in West Africa has now led India to keep an eye on the deadly disease through the Director General of Health Services, which is reviewing the situation.
Karnataka too is on a preparedness mode though not a single case is suspected so far. The Bangalore International Airport Authority has commenced the screening of passengers coming in from the West Africa region.
The Ministry of External Affairs has indicated that that there are about 4,700 Indians in Republic of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone from where maximum cases are reported. Liberia has 300 personnel from the Indian Central Reserve Police Force, comprising largely women, as a part of the UN Peace keeping operations. Nigeria has a much larger presence of around 40,000 Indians.
The Ministry of Defence reports about 7,000 Indian troops deployed in the African continent, but not in the affected countries.
“While the risk of Ebola virus cases in India is low, preparedness measures are in place to deal with any untoward incident. If the situation worsens in the affected countries, there could be possibility of Indians returning,” said Dr Vardhan.
According to Dr V Ravi, registrar, NIMHANS and in charge of the National Influenza Surveillance Centre the state is vigilant about the Ebola virus.
Dr. Shashidhar Buggi, director, Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Chest Diseases, said that the facility which was the hub for treatment for the H1N1 virus in 2008 has already set aside 15 beds to accommodate patients if suspected of Ebola.
On August 4, 2014, the World Health Organization has reported 1603 cases including 887 deaths in West Africa from four countries: Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria. While the number of cases is 485, 468, 646 and 4 from these countries, the fatality is 358, 255, 273 and 1 respectively.
Ebola virus is a Filovirus with 5 distinct species and is not an airborne disease. Much of the current outbreak, has spread through human-to-human transmission. The incubation period of Ebola virus disease is 2-21 days, during which the affected persons are not infective.