The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has awarded a cooperative agreement grant to Manipal University to support hospital-based surveillance of Acute Febrile Illness (AFI) in the Western Ghat Region of India with an extended scope covering the entire nation.
Encouraged by the initial data from the four sites in two states –Karnataka and Kerala –and prompted by the needs of neighboring districts and states, Dr G Arun Kumar, Professor and Head, Manipal Centre for Virus Research (MCVR) at Manipal University proposed an expansion of the program for 2015-2016. CDC awarded the cooperative agreement as part of the greater Global Health Security Agenda Initiative, which focuses on strengthening the public health infrastructure in India and across the world to ensure rapid detection and responses to emerging global health threats.
Initially launched in September 2013 with technical assistance from the CDC’s Global Disease Detection Regional Center in India, the project is designed to establish the specific causes of AFI and offer insights on possible data-driven interventions to reduce illness and mortality. Goals include studying disease pattern and clinical features, strengthening lab surveillance for AFI and exploring the specific burden of diseases transmitted to humans from animals. In Karnataka and Kerala, the project has already identified previously undiagnosed fever pathogens like Influenza, Leptospirosis, Scrub Typhus, Dengue, Malaria, and Kyasanur Forest Disease (KFD). Early detection and diagnosis has allowed physicians to treat patients with appropriate medication and/or clinical management, providing for early recovery.
“The CDC grant, with an extended scope, is a demonstration of international recognition of our commitment and an opportunity to contribute to shape the nation’s evidence based public health policy in infectious diseases” said Dr. H Vinod Bhat, Vice Chancellor of Manipal University. “We are extremely happy that Manipal Centre for Virus Research (MCVR) has emerged as a Centre of Excellence in Public Health Virology in a short period of time, thanks to our national and international partners,” he added.
Manipal Centre for Virus Research is an ICMR Grade-1 Virus Diagnostic Laboratory in addition to being the Regional Reference Laboratory for influenza viruses and the apex referral laboratory for arboviral diseases funded by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India.
With the multi-million dollar funding, Manipal University and CDC India will be able to provide valuable epidemiologic and clinical data for determining the causes of AFI with considerable geographic representation with new study sites being operationalised in north east India. This is critical in terms of effectively delivering public health interventions and protecting the community from public health threats.