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Delhi declared free of bird flu

National Capital Territory (NCT) of Delhi was declared free from bird flu (H5N8 avian influenza) after consecutive samples collected at 15 days’ intervals from the last positive results tested negative.

In October 2016, cases of mortality among the birds due to H5N8 avian influenza were reported in National Zoological Park, Delhi NCR.

About Avian influenza 

  • Avian influenza, commonly called bird flu is an infectious viral disease of birds caused by strains of the influenza virus that have evolved to be specially adapted to enter avian cells.
  • It is an infectious viral disease of birds and can sometimes spread to domestic poultry and cause large-scale outbreaks of serious disease. There are three main types of influenza: A, B, and C.
  • Influenza viruses are further classified by analyzing two proteins on surface of virus, hemagglutinin (H) and neuraminidase (N).
  • Most avian influenza viruses do not infect humans. There is no evidence that the disease can be spread to people through properly cooked food.
  • However A(H7N9) and A(H5N1) virus strains have caused serious infections in people. The infections in humans have been associated with direct or indirect contact with infected live or dead poultry.

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Health Ministry to roll out measles-rubella vaccine

The Union Ministry of Health & Family Welfare will roll out measles-rubella (MR) vaccine in the Universal Immunisation Programme (UIP) in February 2017.

In addition, Pneumococcal conjugate (pneumococcal pneumonia) vaccine will also become a part of the UIP basket in three other states from March 2017.

Key Facts
  • The MR vaccine will be introduced in five states and Union territories viz. Goa, Karnataka, Lakshadweep, Puducherry and Tamil Nadu.
  • The UIP basket already has ten vaccines of which measles is one, once MR vaccine is introduced the present monovalent measles will be discontinued.
  • This vaccine will be introduced three years after the National Vaccine Advisory Committee (NVAC) r recommended the introduction of the MR vaccine in the UIP.
  • The Pneumococcal conjugate (pneumococcal pneumonia) vaccine will be introduced in Himachal Pradesh and parts of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.

Measles-rubella (MR): The disease commonly known as German Measles (or three-day measles) and is symptomatically similar to measles. It can have devastating consequences if a pregnant mother is infected with it and the foetus may be born with incurable congenital anomalies. Symptoms of the infection can include cataracts and deafness. It can also affect the heart and the brain. The congenital rubella infection is believed to affect approximately 25,000 children born in India every year.

Universal Immunization Programme: It is a free vaccination program launched by the Union Government in 1985 against vaccine preventable diseases. It is currently one of the key areas under National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) since 2005. The program consists of vaccination for 10 diseases- Tuberculosis, Diphtheria, Tetanus, Pertussis (whooping cough), Poliomyelitis, measles, Hepatitis B, Diarrhoea, Japanese Encephalitis and Pneumonia.

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New Ebola vaccine may be up to 100% effective: WHO

The World Health Organization (WHO) has expressed confidence that a prototype vaccine for Ebola may be 100% effective in protecting against the deadly virus.

The vaccine was initially developed in Canada by public health authorities before being taken over by pharmaceutical giant Merck.

Key Facts
  • Earlier in a major experimental human clinical trial of this vaccine conducted on nearly 6,000 people in Guinea in 2015 was found to successfully.
  • It was observed that no one from the 6,000 people contracted again to the lethal disease. The test results of the trial were released in The Lancet magazine.
  • This new vaccine has not yet been approved by any regulatory authority. But it is said that the vaccine could become available in 2018 under a fast-track approval process.
  • However, this new vaccine has some flaws as it appears to work against only one of the two most common strains of the Ebola virus.
  • Thus, it may not give long-lasting protection and some of patients who were given this vaccine have reported side effects like joint pain and headaches.

About Ebola virus

Ebola virus disease (EVD) is a severe, often fatal illness in humans. It was first identified in 1976 in the Democratic Republic of Congo in a village near the Ebola River, from which it takes its name. It is transmitted to people from wild animals and spreads in the human population through human-to-human transmission. Fruit bats are natural host of this virus. It spreads through contact with body fluids of inflected persons such as blood, urine and saliva. Symptoms faced by people who have contracted the Ebola virus include high fever, bleeding and central nervous system damage. In 2014, Ebola virus had erupted periodically mainly across west and east Africa mainly in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. It was the deadly outbreak of the virus in the history that had killed 11,000 people.

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