India should beware of 10 viral threats, including Ebola

The diseases include Ebola, MERS-CoV, yellow fever, bird flu, Usutu virus, Tilapia novel orthomyxo-like virus, Cyclovirus, Banna Reo virus and Canine parvovirus

Published: Wednesday 24 July 2019

Ten viral diseases pose a threat to India; a section of the media reported citing the Indian Council of Medical Research and National Centre for Disease Control. The diseases include Ebola, MERS-CoV, yellow fever, Avian influenza (H7N9, H9N2), Usutu virus, Tilapia novel orthomyxo-like virus, Cyclovirus, Banna Reo virus and Canine parvovirus. 

The Indian Journal of Medical Research (IJMR) recently published an article on emerging and re-emerging viral diseases and new viruses on the Indian horizon.

Infectious diseases remain a major challenge, leading to significant healthcare expenditure, for India. The country's extreme geo-climatic differences and uneven population distribution cause patterns of distribution of viral diseases. 

Factors that increased chances of such diseases spreading include:

  1. Increasing population
  2. Poverty and malnutrition
  3. Increased connectivity
  4. Economic factors leading to migration

Nearly 30,000 Indians live in Uganda, where Ebola has been reported. Ebola is highly contagious and spreads through bodily fluids, causing haemorrhagic fever with internal / external bleeding and about 70 per cent of Ebola infection cases end in deaths.

MERS-CoV can be another potential concern. This virus was first reported in Saudi Arabia in 2012 and has since spread to 26 countries.Bats are the thought to be the natural reservoirs of this virus. The review article says that MERS-CoV may spread to India because of great diversity in bat species and the heavy passenger traffic from the Middle East.'

The IJMR article also highlights that sporadic cases of avian influenza have been reported.The situation of emerging public health infections in India was last reviewed in 2013 and the new review attempts to provide an updated on the topic.

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