Before the outbreak of the Eluru unknown disease, undivided Andhra Pradesh had reported a mystery illness that had created a similar panic between 2004 and 2008. While the present mystery ailment has claimed one life, the early ailment had claimed the lives of around 200 children, who died of brain fever or encephalitis.
That virus, later known as Chandipura virus, spread from animal to humans through sandflies. Affecting about 11 districts in undivided AP, it killed around 200 children with brain fever or encephalitis.
The illness was first detected on Saturday with symptoms ranging from nausea and anxiety to loss of consciousness have been reported in 546 patients admitted to hospitals. Chandipura virus, which had drawn global attention as an emerging neurotropic pathogen inflicting high mortality in children within 24 hours of commencement of symptoms and emerged as a major encephalitis pathogen.
According to the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR)s Indian Journal of Medical Research, these types of outbreaks witnessed and case fatality rates ranging from 56-75 percent in Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat with typical encephalitic symptoms”. Between 2004 and 2008, this type of virus caused outbreaks in Andhra Pradesh and later in Gujarat and Maharashtra, as per the study report published in the Open Virology Journal in August 2019.
With acute sickness and rapid deterioration, the precise mechanism of action of the virus is still unknown. Recent studies have shown increased expression of CHPV phosphor protein up to 6 hours post-infection demonstrating CHPV replication in neuronal cells and the rapid destruction of the cells by apoptosis shed light on the probable mechanism of rapid death in children.
Two candidate vaccines targeting P and M proteins have been developed and are awaiting clinical trials. Despite these advancements, the virus has been a major concern in Central India and warrants immediate attention from virologists, neurologists, pediatricians, and the government for containing the virus.