Tests go South


KMC is the referral centre for the whole of Kerala and coastal and southern Karnataka. JIPMER at Pondicherry and Institute of Pathology and Microbiology,  Hyderabad make up the other two centres in South India. Dakshina Kannada District Health Surveillance Officer Dr Rajesh said the NICD, Delhi director personally examined the facilities at KMC   and approved it.

The lab at Manipal has the capacity to test 10 samples at one go, a process that takes up to six hours. KMC Dean Dr Sripathi Rao said that the NICD had identified Manipal as a centre for setting up a lab to detect Avian Influenza last year.

Nodal officer Dr Arun Kumar said only samples sent by the government health machinery would be tested at the lab. Real Time PCR would be the main test done on the samples (nasal and throat swabs of suspected cases) which would look for three genes specifically found in the RNA of the H1N1 virus. Mangalore and Manipal, prominent educational hubs in the State, house hundreds of foreign students studying engineering and medicine. At the same time, daily international flights have been introduced from the Mangalore airport connecting several countries, including the Middle East. Students and academicians constitute a major part of the international passengers besides NRIs.

Incidentally, all the five confirmed swine flu cases in Mangalore are students and have either a record of travel to a foreign country or contact with those who had been abroad.

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