HYDERABAD: Soon after receiving the news that two persons from the city might have been infected by Nipah virus, the challenge was to find a person who would take the samples to National Institute of Virology (NIV) in Pune.
It was a risky job as the carrier too could contract the deadly infection in case the samples were infected.
After going through a list of officials and the staff working at the State Health department and making multiple calls, Institute of Preventive Medicines director Dr K Shankar zeroed in on Hyderabad district surveillance officer Dr D Sriharsha Yadav. The duo have a teacher-student relation as Dr Shankar taught Dr Sriharsha during his MBBS course.
The samples were collected and packed in triple layer to prevent contamination or leakage of the sample. Low temperatures were maintained in the vaccine box with the help of ice packs.The second challenge was to find a means of transport as airways and rental car service providers did not agree to carry samples, and carrying the samples by train would risk the lives of many.
“I took my own car and hired a driver as the expenses will be reimbursed. After collecting samples from the patients, we started from Hyderabad at around 2 am, travelled 574 kilometres for seven hours and reached NIV by 9 am on Friday. Since it was an overnight journey, we took turns to drive the car,” said Dr Sriharsha.
The official waited till late in the evening to know the test results and communicated the results to officials in Hyderabad, which were negative “Since Nipah virus cases were confirmed in Kerala, we did not want to take any chance. Our priority was to send the samples and know the results at the earliest,” said Dr Shankar.