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Cat Que Virus: New virus from China, ICMR raises alarm!!

Amidst the times of chaos throughout the country due to the novel coronavirus, the Scientists at the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) discovered the CAT QUE VIRUS (CQV) and have alarmed the country that this virus may have a disease-causing potential. Is it a threat really? Here’s everything you need to know about it.

WHAT IS THE CAT QUE VIRUS ?

The first thing you need to know about this virus is that it is not related to cats in any way. The Cat Que virus is a Simbu serogroup virus of the genus Orthobunyavirus (family Bunyaviridae). The virus was first isolated in 2004 from mosquitoes during surveillance of arbovirus activity in acute pediatric encephalitis in northern Vietnam. The researchers reported the complete genome sequence of the virus (SC0806) isolated from mosquitoes (Culex tritaeniorhynchus) in Sichuan Province, China, in 2015. The study said that anti-SC0806 immunoglobulin M (IgM) and IgG antibodies were found in pigs reared locally, indicating that CQV has formed a natural cycle in the local area.

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So pigs and Culex mosquitos can be primary hosts and carriers for this virus.

WHAT KIND OF DISEASES CAN IT CAUSE?

Being one of the arthropod-borne viruses (arboviruses), the CQV may cause febrile illnesses, meningitis, and pediatric encephalitis among humans.

WHY THIS VIRUS SUDDENLY GAINED ATTENTION IN INDIA?

This virus unlike the Covid-19 virus is not new. The CQV was first reported in 2004 when it was isolated from mosquitoes during surveillance in Vietnam and later in Uganda. In the past two decades, the scientists at the NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF VIROLOGY, PUNE (NIV) have been conducting exploratory research studies as part of their research activity for developing proactive preparedness for new viruses. NIV scientists have collected several samples of human sera and vector species like bats, mosquitoes, ticks, mites, etc. wherein several uncharacterized viruses were detected. Such uncharacterized samples that were stored at NIV can now be studied in detail due to the availability of modern sequencing and virus culture methods.

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Between the 2014 – 2017 period around 883 human serum samples were taken from different states of the country. No sample was in time found positive for the CQV in time but later in the antibody test two samples were found containing the antibodies for CQV indicating the presence of the virus inside the body at some point in time. Both these samples came from the samples from KARNATAKA in 2014 and 2017.

The findings of the study were published in the latest issue of the Indian Journal of Medical Research (IJMR). THIS IS THE REASON IT GRABBED SUCH A SUDDEN ATTENTION

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IS THE CQV AN ALARMING THREAT?

At the present moment, the Cat-Que virus is not at all perceived as a major public health threat and does not merit enhanced attention. However, if the need arises, ICMR-NIV is well prepared with diagnostic modalities,” said Dr. Pragya D. Yadav from the Maximum Containment Laboratory at Indian Council of Medical Research-National Institute of Virology (NIV), Pune.

Several media reports on Wednesday raised alarm about a virus called Cat-Que (CQV) and warned that it ‘can trigger a pandemic in India’, also calling it ‘Chinese virus’ and that the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has warned about the spread of the disease in the country.

All these reports pointed to a paper recently published in the Indian Journal of Medical Research. Proving these media statements wrong, one of the authors of the paper has clarified that the Cat-Que virus is not at all perceived as a major public health threat at the present moment.

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