The Manipal Center for Virus Research (MCVR), which studied acute febrile illness (AFI) in 10 states in the country from 2014, has concluded that some diseases that are common or region-specific could be treated at secondary care hospitals. In the past four years, researchers from MAHE involved with the project, which is supported by the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), has screened about 40,000 patients across the 10 states. Researchers plan to convince the government that if patients are treated quickly at the secondary care, mortality rates can be reduced. The study was conducted in Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Goa, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Odisha, Assam and Tripura. Dr Arun Kumar, who heads MCVR, said common AFI diseases include influenza, leptospirosis, scrub typhus, dengue, malaria, Kyasanur Forest disease (monkey fever) and Japanese encephalitis.
Kumar said of the 40,000 patients they screened, researchers found that only 50 percent of diseases could be treated, while the rest of the diseases were unknown or unique in nature. The most common AFI in the Western Ghats is Kyasanur Forest disease, while in the northeast it is Japanese encephalitis. The common AFI in all 10 states is scrub typhus — a widely spread disease. “This is an old, treatable disease which had vanished for some time and is again showing up in many parts of India,” Kumar said. “If it is not diagnosed properly, it can lead to death.” Asked how the study would help common people in the future, Kumar said it pointed out the need to help people get treatment as quickly as possible for common yet deadly diseases.
He said when a person afflicted by a certain AFI disease is brought to a lower-level healthcare center, doctors, who don’t the facilities to treat the patient, refer the patient to a bigger hospital like a district hospital. “Take the example of a KFD infected patient who hails from a rural area,” Kumar said. “When a health center refers the patient to a bigger hospital, he or she has to again travel a long distance without any medication. There are chances of the patient dying because of a lack of treatment at right time. The study will be presented to the government and we will urge them to provide such healthcare at lower-level hospitals and health centers.” – TOI