VELLORE: While it may be too early to panic on the entry of the dreaded Ebola virus into India, which is presently devastating most of the West African countries, the Christian Medical College Hospital, a premier institution that has pioneered in handling epidemics like SARS and swine flu in the past, has embarked on a ‘preparedness mode’ to handle the ebola outbreak also.
At a meeting of the Hospital Infection Control Committee, chaired by Medical Superintendent Dr Eapen on Friday, various options of handling aspects like protecting the care- givers and healthcare workers and planning for supportive treatment in case of an ebola outbreak were discussed. “So far, there has been no reported case of ebola infection in India. But we are prepared to handle eventualities,” Eapen said. As the mode of transmission was mainly through contact of blood and body fluids unlike other infections through air borne transmissions, that would spread more rapidly,” he added.
Noted virologist Dr Jacob John, a professor emeritus and formerly with the CMC, warned that it would be difficult to screen healthy persons carrying the virus without any symptom of infection. This is certainly a cause for concern, he added. He said, the government should, therefore, monitor the travellers from the Western African countries for symptoms such as if they developed sickness after one or two weeks. He also, he underlined the need for a well-defined public health surveillance system that would focus on case-based monitoring to contain the spread of ebola in India. As of now, there is no known cure for this disease, only supportive treatment could help. An American company has claimed to have developed an innovative drug, extracted from antibodies from monkeys and having customised for humans and which was in experimental stage.
The good news is that 10 to 20 per cent of infected people recovered from on their own. Efforts were on to recover anti-bodies from the recovered persons for treating others but the research is still in its infancy, Dr Jacob John added.