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Dengue vaccine in the offing for Assam

ICMR to conduct survey on dengue prevalence across the State

BY OUR STAFF REPORTER
GUWAHATI, Oct 31: With dengue a growing menace in Assam, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has decided to carry out a survey across the State before introducing Dengvaxia, a vaccine for dengue prevention accredited by the World Health Organization.
Sources told The Sentinel that blood sample collection for the proposed survey has been completed in Jorhat and Dibrugarh districts in Upper Assam, and the process is under way in Kamrup and Sonitpur districts.
“It will be a random survey. As per norms prescribed by WHO, we will have to examine the prevalence of dengue in a particular area before the vaccine is used. If there is more than 70 per cent prevalence, the vaccine can be administered to residents there. Blood samples of 25 persons will be collected from each area with prior permission from the donors,” a source at Regional Medical Research Centre, Dibrugarh, said. 
The surveyors will collect 1,000 blood samples in Assam and the result of the survey will be submitted to the Union Ministry of Health & Family Welfare within December.
DENVax is a tetravalent, live-attenuated and recombinant vaccine. It is given in two doses, three months apart. It is undergoing phase II trials in Thailand, Singapore, Colombia and Puerto Rico.
As per the latest records available with Health Department, as many as 1,656 persons in the State have been afflicted with dengue this year, of which 1,333 patients are from Kamrup (M) district alone. The official records state only two fatalities by the Aedes mosquito-borne disease, though unofficial sources are claiming more deaths.
Symptoms of dengue include high fever, headache, rash and muscle and joint pain. In severe cases, there is serious bleeding and shock, which can be life threatening. Patients may experience pain in the abdomen, back, bones, joints, muscles and back of the eyes. Whole body chills, fatigue, fever, or loss of appetite, etc., are other symptoms. Nausea or vomiting, rashes or red spots, easy bruising and severe headache are other symptoms.
Besides Assam, the ICMR will also conduct the survey in 16 other States including Meghalaya and Tripura. ICMR is conducting a dengue census across the country to collect more data from different zonal populations to provide more data on baseline sero-prevalence of the vaccine.
 “Based on the survey report, we can decide on the necessity of dengue vaccine. An expert committee will be looking into the report to decide on various alternatives available as dengue vaccine, and can finalize on which vaccine will be feasible for the country,” a source said.