A hitherto unknown virus with a high mortality rate that killed three people in the last 15 days in Ahmedabad (Gujarat) has been successfully identified by the city-based National Institute of Virology (NIV).The virus, Crimean Congo Haemorrhagic Fever (CCHF), has a high mortality rate of 90%.

        NIV director, Dr AC Mishra, told DNA, “The virus that killed three people in the last 15 days has a mortality of 90%, which is tremendously high. A patient with this infection can go into coma in a span of three days after getting infected,’’ he added.

        Mishra said a team was sent to Ahmedabad to collect samples last week after Shelby Hospital there contacted the NIV in connection with three patients with similar clinical conditions who were not responding to treatment. Two of these patients succumbed to their illness.

        “Since two of the patients died, a sample was collected from the third (female) patient on Saturday and was examined in Pune on Sunday. Detailed reports of this virus being CCHF and its mortality rate were submitted to the Union and Gujarat governments on Monday. We were informed that the patient from whom the sample was collected succumbed on Tuesday,” he said.

        So far, six patients with similar symptoms have been admitted to the same hospital, he said. Fifty more samples from the patients have been collected for screening for CCHF at NIV. The younger brother of the (third) patient is currently critical and has been admitted with similar conditions.

        Mishra said CCHF is caused when tick-borne virus changes its clinical nature after being transferred from animals (cattle or rats) to humans.

        Compared to swine flu or Influenza-A H1N1, Mishra said that while H1N1 spreads quickly, but has a mortality of just 0.1%, CCHF has a mortality rate of 90% and the severity is high. Treatment is easy in H1N1, whereas due to the confused clinical picture, the treatment becomes very difficult in CCHF.

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