Even as two days of admission of six tribals from Dumbriguda mandal in the agency to King George Hospital with suspected anthrax symptoms, the samples collected from them are yet to be tested at the microbiology department. The diagnostic tests will be available mostly by Sunday, said the officials. However, the officials say that equipment available at the department is not adequate to confirm cutaneous anthrax sans error for which the samples, even after being tested at the microbiology department, is sent again to Manipal Medical College or the DRDE Laboratory in Gwalior for the RTPCR test. 

This is the second incident of suspected cutaneous anthrax being reported from the Vizag Agency. In June,  five villagers from Kodupunjuvalasa village in Araku mandal were tested positive for cutaneous anthrax. While the scientists from Gwalior are yet to visit the Agency, two professors from the microbiology department were sent for training on anthrax testing. 

The culture test is done at the department, but it is a basic one to detect the disease. Hence, the department has decided to procure an RTPCR equipment which costs `15-20 lakh so that the confirmation tests can be done at the KGH itself. “This will be the first instrument in KGH. As of now, we are getting the diagnostic reports of samples from Gwalior which takes some weeks. Having an equipment here will help conduct anthrax confirmation tests at the department. Prior to the procurement of the equipment, the professors have been sent for anthrax testing training,” said epidemiologist L Kalyan Prasad.

PCR lab on the cards 

Microbiology department HOD P Appa Rao said plans are afoot to set up a PCR lab which needs specially trained hands. “As cutaneous anthrax is not fatal, the tests done at the KGH are quite enough. But for pulmonary anthrax, we need the proper equipment. The proposed lab will help us study of the causal organism and gene pattern as well which comes under the ICMR project,” he said. – Indian Express

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