Odisha to conduct genome sequencing of diphtheria positive samples

The patient from Bandhugaon block of Koraput is undergoing treatment at MKCG Medical College and Hospital in Berhampur.
Image used for representational purpose only
Image used for representational purpose onlyPhoto | Express Illustrations

BHUBANESWAR: Amid commencement of a special vaccination drive in Rayagada district following diphtheria outbreak, Odisha government has decided to conduct genome sequencing of samples to ascertain emergence of any new variant and reasons behind the transmission among vaccinated children.

So far, five children have reportedly died due to diphtheria in Manushpadar village of Kashipur block. The bacterial infection has spread to bordering areas in Koraput and Kalahandi districts from where swab samples from five suspected cases have been sent to Regional Medical Research Centre (RMRC) for testing.

Director of public health Dr Nilakantha Mishra said genome sequencing of the positive samples will be conducted to know about the bacteria variant and whether any new variant has emerged.

“Since some vaccinated children also fell to the disease, we are planning genome sequencing to know if the old strain is in circulation or a new variant has emerged. RMRC also has been asked to conduct antibody tests in the affected areas to know the effectiveness of the vaccines,” he said.

The disease is vaccine preventable and after the disease was included in the universal vaccination programme, it was almost eradicated, Dr Mishra said and suspected that the outbreak might have occurred due to missed vaccination or evolution of a new variant.

Meanwhile, no new case has been reported in Rayagada and all the patients admitted in the district headquarters hospital have been discharged. The patient from Bandhugaon block of Koraput is undergoing treatment at MKCG Medical College and Hospital in Berhampur.

“The patient is suffering from pneumonia and is on ventilator. His condition is being closely monitored. Among four patients from Kalahandi, two are suspected to have been affected in diphtheria. They are under treatment. The three districts have been asked to track the contacts of diphtheria patients and send their samples for test,” the public health director said.

Director of family welfare Dr Sanjukta Sahoo said vaccination of left out children below one year has started in six villages, including Manushpadar, under Kashipur block. Subsequently, children of other age groups, who missed the shots, will be administered the vaccine, she added.

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