The relationship of this country with dengue has been long and intense. The first recorded epidemic of clinically dengue-like illness occurred at Madras in 1780 and the dengue virus was isolated for the first time almost simultaneously in Japan and Calcutta in 1943–1944. After the first virologically proved epidemic of dengue fever along the East Coast of India in 1963–1964, it spread to allover the country. The first full-blown epidemic of the severe form of the illness, the dengue haemorrhagic fever/dengue shock syndrome occurred in North India in 1996. Aedes aegypti is the vector for transmission of the disease. Vaccines or antiviral drugs are not available for dengue viruses; the only effective way to prevent epidemic degure fever/dengue haemorrhagic fever (DF/DHF) is to control the mosquito vector, Aedes aegypti and prevent its bite. This country has few virus laboratories and some of them have done excellent work in the area of molecular epidemiology, immunopathology and vaccine development. Selected work done in this country on the problems of dengue is presented here.
Chikungunya (CHIK), a mosquito borne debilitating disease, is caused by CHIK virus, an alphavirus belonging to the family Togaviridae. The sudden onset of very high fever along with rash, and severe arthralgia especially in the small joints of hands and toes are the characteristics of the disease. It was first reported from Tanzania in 1952-53 and spread subsequently to sub-Saharan Africa, South East Asia and Pacific causing large epidemics. The virus exists in three genotypes, the Asian, West African and East Central South African that are responsible for outbreaks in the respective areas. The first outbreak in Asia was in Bangkok in 1958 followed by other Asian countries. India experienced massive outbreaks of CHIK in the 1960s and early 70s mainly in cities. After a gap of 32 years an explosive outbreak of CHIK devastated the country affecting more than 1.4 million people in 13 states. The epidemic also witnessed many unusual clinico-pathological complications including CHIK associated deaths and mother to child transmission. High morbidity with severe arthralgia persisted for several months made the people mentally and physically weak. This review describes CHIK in general and highlights the various clinico-pathological aspects observed during the recent outbreak.
The hepatitis E virus (HEV) is a small RNA virus and the etiological agent for hepatitis E, a form of acute viral hepatitis. The virus has a feco-oral transmission cycle and is transmitted through environmental contamination, mainly through drinking water. Recent studies on the isolation of HEV-like viruses from animal species also suggest zoonotic transfer of the virus. The absence of small animal models of infection and efficient cell culture systems has precluded virological studies on the replication cycle and pathogenesis of HEV. A vaccine against HEV has undergone successful clinical testing and diagnostic tests are available. This review describes HEV epidemiology, clinical presentation, pathogenesis, molecular virology and the host response to HEV infection. The focus is on published literature in the past decade.
Hepatitis C is an emerging infection in India and an important pathogen causing liver disease in India. The high risk of chronicity of this blood-borne infection and its association with hepatocellular carcinoma underscores its public health importance. Blood transfusion and unsafe therapeutic interventions by infected needles are two preventable modalities of spread of hepatitis C infection. In addition, risk factor modification by reducing the number of intravenous drug users will help curtail the prevalence of this infection. This review summarizes the extent, nature and implications of this relatively new pathogen in causing disease in India.
Since 1918, influenza virus has been one of the major causes of morbidity and mortality, especially among young children. Though the commonly circulating strain of the virus is not virulent enough to cause mortality, the ability of the virus genome to mutate at a very high rate may lead to the emergence of a highly virulent strain that may become the cause of the next pandemic. Apart from the influenza virus strain circulating in humans (H1N1 and H3N2), the avian influenza H5N1 H7 and H9 virus strains have also been reported to have caused human infections, H5N1 H7 and H9 have shown their ability to cross the species barrier from birds to humans and further replicate in humans. This review addresses the biological and epidemiological aspects of influenza virus and efforts to have a control on the virus globally.
Human metapneumovirus is a recently recognized pathogen of acute respiratory tract infection (ARI) in children as well as elderly and immunocompromised adults. The virus belongs to the family Paramyxoviridae, sub family Pneumovirinae and genus Metapneumovirus. Through genetic analysis it has been characterized into two groups A and B which are further divided into four sub-lineages. The virus is difficult to grow in tissue culture and hence reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) for N and L gene is the method of choice for diagnosis. The virus has been seen in all countries with seasonal distribution in winter months for temperate and spring/summer for tropical countries. F gene is the most conserved among different lineages and efforts are underway to design recombination vaccine using F gene.
The emerging viral diseases haemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome (HFRS) and hantavirus cardiopulmonary syndrome (HCPS) are a cause of global concern as they are increasingly reported from newer regions of the world. The hantavirus species causing HFRS include Hantaan virus, Seoul virus, Puumala virus, and Dobrava-Belgrade virus while Sin Nombre virus was responsible for the 1993 outbreak of HCPS in the Four Corners Region of the US. Humans are accidental hosts and get infected by aerosols generated from contaminated urine, feces and saliva of infected rodents. Rodents are the natural hosts of these viruses and develop persistent infection. Human to human infections are rare and the evolution of the virus depends largely on that of the rodent host. The first hantavirus isolate to be cultured, Thottapalayam virus, is the only indigenous isolate from India, isolated from an insectivore in 1964 in Vellore, South India. Research on hantaviruses in India has been slow but steady since 2005. Serological investigation of patients with pyrexic illness revealed presence of anti-hantavirus IgM antibodies in 14.7% of them. The seropositivity of hantavirus infections in the general population is about 4% and people who live and work in close proximity with rodents have a greater risk of acquiring hantavirus infections. Molecular and serological evidence of hantavirus infections in rodents and man has also been documented in this country. The present review on hantaviruses is to increase awareness of these emerging pathogens and the threats they pose to the public health system.
Japanese encephalitis (JE) remains the most important cause of acute viral encephalitis and continues to spread to hitherto unaffected regions like Indonesia, Pakistan and Australia. Approximately 60% of the world population inhabits JE endemic areas. Despite its restricted range mostly in the developing countries, a high annual incidence of 50,000 cases and about 10,000 deaths has been reported. Disease can be fatal in 25% cases. Magnitude of the problem is even more alarming since the survivors are left with serious long-term neuropsychiatric sequelae. Almost every two years, epidemics of JE occur in Indian subcontinent with a high mortality. JE virus infection results in different disease manifestations in host from mild subclinical febrile illness to clinical infections leading to encephalitis. No antiviral treatment is so far available for JE. The prevention of JE can be achieved by controlling the vector or by immunization regime. The vector control in the rural areas, which are the worst affected ones, is practically almost impossible. Three vaccines that have been implicated against JE include inactivated mouse brain derived, inactivated cell culture derived and cell culture derived live attenuated JE vaccine. But each has its own limitation. Currently, attempts to synthesize recombinant DNA vaccine are being made. New therapeutics are on the way of development like use of minocycline, short interfering RNA, arctigenin, rosmarinic acid, DNAzymes etc. However, the immune mechanisms that lead to JE are complex and need to be elucidated further for the development of therapeutics as well as safe and efficacious JE vaccines.
The year 1986 saw first case of HIV infection as well as first report of AIDS case in India. Since then the epidemic has spread throughout the country. In the recent years there is evidence of epidemic being stabilized with decrease in new infections reported from some parts of the country. The absolute number of HIV infections in the country is expected to be close to 2.5 million and National AIDS Control Programme, phase III is geared to contain the epidemic. HIV viruses circulating in India predominantly belong to HIV-1 subtype C. However, there have been occasional reports of HIV-1 subtype A and B. Matter of concern is reports of A/C and B/C mosaic viruses that are being reported from different parts of the country. The data on HIV drug resistance from India is rather limited. Most of the studies have shown that the virus strains from drug naïve patients do not show significant level of drug resistance mutations. The few immunological studies in Indian patients show that the Indian HIV infected patients show both HIV-specific CTL responses as well as neutralizing antibody response. Mapping of CTL epitopes showed that while Indian patients identify same regions of Gag antigen as recognized by South African subtype C infected patients, some regions are uniquely recognized by Indian patients. There are very few studies on host genetic factors in India in context with HIV infection. However there are evidences reported of association of host genetic factors such as HLA types and haplotypes and HIV disease.
The global impact of the converging dual epidemics of tuberculosis (TB) and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is one of the major public health challenges of our time. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports 9.2 million new cases of TB in 2006 of whom 7.7% were HIV-infected. Tuberculosis is the most common opportunistic infection in HIV-infected patients as well as the leading cause of death. Further, there has been an increase in rates of drug resistant tuberculosis, including multi-drug (MDRTB) and extensively drug resistant TB (XDRTB), which are difficult to treat and contribute to increased mortality. The diagnosis of TB is based on sputum smear microscopy, a 100-year old technique and chest radiography, which has problems of specificity. Extra-pulmonary, disseminated and sputum smear negative manifestations are more common in patients with advanced immunosuppression. Newer diagnostic tests are urgently required that are not only sensitive and specific but easy to use in remote and resource-poor settings. Treatment of HIV-TB co-infection is complex and associated with high pill burden, overlapping drug toxicities, risk of immune reconstitution inflammatory syndrome (IRIS) and challenges related to adherence. From a programmatic point of view, screening of all HIV-infected persons for tuberculosis and vice-versa will help identify co-infected patients who require treatment for both infections. This requires good coordination and communication between the TB and AIDS control programs, in India.
Brucellosis is an important re-emerging zoonosis with a worldwide distribution. It is still an uncontrolled serious public health problem in many developing countries including India. Brucellosis in India is yet a very common but often neglected disease. Currently, Brucella melitensis accounts for most recorded cases globally with cattle emerging as a important reservoir with the few cases of B. suis. Isolated cases of non-terrestrial brucellosis and continuing transmission from wild animals have raised important epidemiological issues. Routine serological surveillance along with high clinical suspicion and screening of family members of index cases would be essential in delineating the real magnitude of human brucellosis in endemic countries. Increased business and leisure travel to endemic countries have led to diagnostic challenge in non-endemic areas. Laboratory testing is indispensable for diagnosis. Advances in newer rapid, sensitive, and specific testing methodologies and alternate treatment strategies are urgently needed. A safe and effective vaccine in human is not yet available. Prevention is dependent upon increasing public awareness through health education programmes and safe livestock practices. Active co-operation between health and veterinary services should be promoted. This review collates world literature and its impact to the discovery, isolation and diagnosis and epidemiology along with the control measures adapted in the Indian scenario.
There has been a remarkable progress in the prevention, control and even eradication of infectious diseases with improved hygiene and development of antimicrobials and vaccines. However, infectious diseases still remain a leading cause of global disease burden with high morbidity and mortality especially in the developing world. Furthermore, there have been threats of new diseases during the past three decades due to the evolution and adaptation of microbes and the re-emergence of old diseases due to the development of antimicrobial resistance and the capacity to spread to new geographic areas. The impact of the emerging and re-emerging diseases in India has been tremendous at socioeconomic and public health levels. Their control requires continuing surveillance, research and training, better diagnostic facilities and improved public health system. Emerging and reemerging zoonotic diseases, foodborne and waterborne diseases and diseases caused by multiresistant organisms constitute the major threats in India. This review of bacterial emerging and re-emerging diseases should be of critical importance to microbiologists, clinicians, public health personnel and policy makers in India.
Leptospirosis has been recognized as an emerging global public health problem because of its increasing incidence in both developing and developed countries. A number of leptospirosis outbreaks have occurred in the past few years in various places such as Nicaragua, Brazil and India. Some of these resulted due to natural calamities such as cyclone and floods. It is a direct zoonotic disease caused by spirochetes belonging to different pathogenic species of the genus Leptospira. Large number of animals acts as carriers or vectors. Human infection results from accidental contact with carrier animals or environment contaminated with leptospires. The primary source of leptospires is the excretor animal, from whose renal tubules leptospires are excreted into the environment with the animal urine. Majority of leptospiral infections are either sub clinical or result in very mild illness and recover without any complications. However, a small proportion develops various complications due to involvement of multiple organ systems. In such patients, the clinical presentation depends upon the predominant organs involved and the case fatality ratio could be about 40% or more. Febrile illness with icterus, splenomegaly and nephritis (known as Weil’s disease), acute febrile illness with severe muscle pain, febrile illness with pulmonary haemorrhages in the form of haemoptysis, jaundice with pulmonary haemorrhages, jaundice with heamaturea, meningitis with haemorrhages including sub conjunctival haemorrhage or febrile illness with cardiac arrhythmias with or without haemorrhages are some of the syndromes. Because of the protean manifestations of leptospirosis it is often misdiagnosed and under-reported. Although the basic principles of prevention such as source reduction, environmental sanitation, more hygienic work-related and personal practices etc., are same everywhere, there is no universal control method applicable to all epidemiological settings. Comprehensive understanding of the eco- epidemiological and cultural characteristics of a community that faces the problem of leptospirosis is an essential prerequisite for evolving an effective and acceptable control measure.
Cysticercosis, caused by Taenia solium larva is a major public health problem, especially in the developing world and neurocysticercosis (NCC) is considered to be the most common parasitic infestation of the central nervous system. NCC is identified as the single most common cause of community acquired active epilepsy; 26.3% to 53.8% active epilepsy cases in the developing world including India and Latin America are due to NCC. It is also becoming more common in the developed world because of increased migration of people with the disease or Taenia solium carriers and frequent travel to the endemic countries. It is estimated that three quarters of the estimated 50 million people with active epilepsy live in the poor countries of the world. Recent Indian studies using neuroimaging techniques suggest that the disease burden in India surpasses many other developing countries. Hence it is important to know the epidemiology, pathogenesis and diagnostic criteria so as to assess the disease burden and adopt interventional strategies for its control. Literature search was done for this review with special emphasis on Indian studies to create awareness about the disease in India, since cysticercosis is preventable and potentially eradicable.
India contributes about 70% of malaria in the South East Asian Region of WHO. Although annually India reports about two million cases and 1000 deaths attributable to malaria, there is an increasing trend in the proportion of Plasmodium falciparum as the agent. There exists heterogeneity and variability in the risk of malaria transmission between and within the states of the country as many ecotypes/paradigms of malaria have been recognized. The pattern of clinical presentation of severe malaria has also changed and while multi-organ failure is more frequently observed in falciparum malaria, there are reports of vivax malaria presenting with severe manifestations. The high burden populations are ethnic tribes living in the forested pockets of the states like Orissa, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and the North Eastern states which contribute bulk of morbidity and mortality due to malaria in the country. Drug resistance, insecticide resistance, lack of knowledge of actual disease burden along with new paradigms of malaria pose a challenge for malaria control in the country. Considering the existing gaps in reported and estimated morbidity and mortality, need for estimation of true burden of malaria has been stressed. Administrative, financial, technical and operational challenges faced by the national programme have been elucidated. Approaches and priorities that may be helpful in tackling serious issues confronting malaria programme have been outlined.
The antibiotic era started in the 1940s and changed the profile of infectious diseases and human demography. The burgeoning classes and numbers promised much and elimination of this major cause of human (and animal) morbidity appeared possible. Bacterial antibiotic resistance which was observed soon after antibiotic introduction has been studied extensively. Diverse mechanisms have been demonstrated and the genetic basis elucidated. The resilience of the prokaryote ecosystems to antibiotic stress has been realized. The paper presents these subjects briefly to afford an overview. The epidemiology of antibiotic resistance is dealt with and community practices in different countries are described. The role of high antibiotic usage environments is indicated. The implication of the wide use of antibiotics in animals has been pointed out. Steadily increasing antibiotic resistance and decreasing numbers of newer antibiotics appear to point to a post-antibiotic period during which treatment of infections would become increasingly difficult. This article attempts to review the global antimicrobial resistance scene and juxtaposes it to the Indian experience. The prevalence in India of antibiotic resistance among major groups of pathogens is described. The factors that determine the prevalent high antibiotic resistance rates have been highlighted. The future research activity to ensure continued utility of antibiotics in the control of infections has been indicated.
Drug resistant tuberculosis is a man made problem. While tuberculosis is hundred percent curable, multidrug resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) is difficult to treat. Inadequate and incomplete treatment and poor treatment adherence has led to a newer form of drug resistance known as extensively drug resistant tuberculosis (XDR-TB). XDR-TB is defined as tuberculosis caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis strain, which is resistant to at least rifampicin and isoniazid among the first line anti tubercular drugs (MDR-TB) in addition to resistance to any fluroquinolones and at least one of three injectable second line anti tubercular drugs i.e. amikacin, kanamycin and/or capreomycin. Mismanagement of tuberculosis paves the way to drug resistant tuberculosis. Emergence of XDR-TB is reported world wide. Reported prevalence rates of XDR-TB of total MDR cases are; 6.6% overall worldwide, 6.5% in industrialized countries, 13.6% in Russia and Eastern Europe, 1.5% in Asia, 0.6% in Africa and Middle East and 15.4% in Republic of Korea. Better management and control of tuberculosis specially drug resistant TB by experienced and qualified doctors, access to standard microbiology laboratory, co-morbitidy of HIV and tuberculosis, new anti-TB drug regimens, better diagnostic tests, international standards for second line drugs (SLD)-susceptibility testing, invention of newer anti-tubercular molecules and vaccines and knowing the real magnitude of XDR-TB are some of the important issues to be addressed for effective prevention and management of XDR-TB.
The development of technologies with rapid and sensitive detection capabilities and increased throughput have become crucial for responding to greater number threats posed by emerging and re-emerging viruses in the recent past. The conventional identification methods require time-consuming culturing, and/ or detection of antibodies, which are not very sensitive and specific. The recent advances in molecular biology techniques in the field of genomics and proteomics greatly facilitate the rapid identification with more accuracy. We have developed two real-time assays i.e., SYBR green I based real time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) and RT-loop-mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP) assay for rapid detection as well as typing of some of the emerging viruses of biomedical importance viz. dengue, Japanese encephalitis, chikungunya, west Nile, severe acute respiratory syndrome virus (SARS) etc. Both these techniques are capable of detection and differentiation as well as quantifying viral load with higher sensitivity, rapidity, specificity. One of the most important advantages of LAMP is its field applicability, without requirement of any sophisticated equipments. Both these assays have been extensively evaluated and validated with clinical samples of recent epidemics from different parts of India. The establishment of these real time molecular assays will certainly facilitate the rapid detection of viruses with high degree of precision and accuracy in future.
Volume 42 | Issue 4