Is the Sub-continent immune to SARS menace?
Posted: Wednesday, April 23, 2003
Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS)
by Shakti Sharma (HindustanTimes.com)
New Delhi, April 23
Are people from India and Indian sub-continent immune to the fast spreading SARS virus? This question is baffling the medical community, with doctors discussing the possibility of the virus being race-specific.
Some doctors are of the view that people of the sub-continent may have a higher level of immunity to the virus. They reason that with a large number of Indians, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis and Sri Lanka frequenting SARS-affected regions like Singapore, Hong Kong and other territories, hardly anyone has contracted the virus.
WHO (Delhi HQ) Information Officer, Harsharn Pandey avers: "It has been almost five months since the first case of SARS was reported from China, and the virus has spread to 23 countries, but not a single case of SARS has been reported from Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh".
AIIMS virologist, Dr Shobha Broor says," Viruses are never race sensitive but it could be possible that people from this part of the sub-continent could have developed antibodies to counter the SARS virus."
Although WHO has no race-wise record of SARS victims - both dead and those affected -- available information culled from various sources points out that no person from this part of the world has died of SARS so far.
Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of the US health department, Dr Julie L Gerberding, during a recent video conference, admitted about the typical race-specific behaviour of the virus and said that in China, Hong Kong and Singapore the ongoing transmission of this virus at a very accelerated pace in "certain communities".
Doctors are also pointing out at the fact that the local transmission of the virus has so far been reported from China, Hong Kong, Canada, Singapore, Vietnam, Taiwan, UK and the USA, while in the sub-continent, people who had tested positive for the virus had brought in the disease from infected nations and the recovery rate is cent percent.
Quoting incidents of SARS, doctors say, the first ever case of SARS in India was reported from Goa where a marine engineer tested positive. The patient, however, responded well to treatment and recovered in almost no time.
In the latest SARS case reported from Pune, three members of a family -- Stanley D'silva, his mother Vimla and sister Julie -- who came to India three weeks ago, tested positive. While Stanley has completely recovered, his mother and sister are responding well to treatment.
Indian Medical Association (Delhi Chapter) president, KK Aggarwal says the so called SARS positive cases reported cases in India may ultimately test negative, as the confirmatory test for the virus on the convalescent sample has to be done after 21 days.
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