The Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) has raised concerns surrounding the ‘Cat-Que virus’ (CQV), noting the potential that the virus could spread from China, causing a disease outbreak in India.
The disease is present in pigs and is primarily spread by Culex (Cx.) mosquitoes. However “data showed that Indian mosquitoes (Ae. aegypti, Cx. quinquefasciatus and Cx. tritaeniorhynchus) were susceptible to CQV,” according to an ICMR study. The implication of this is that spread within India is entirely feasible should the virus enter India.
As of yet, CQV is primarily found in China and Vietnam. However, it is of particular concern should the virus spread to India due to the abundance of mosquito vectors and rural livestock rearing that could allow for the disease to become endemic. The symptoms also have the potential to be severe. Issues such as febrile illnesses, meningitis and paediatric encephalitis are associated with CQV.
Tests conducted in India have found antibodies for the virus in two of the 883 human serum samples tested from across a number of states. The implication of this is that the virus is present in India, though not necessarily yet in circulation, as some of the individuals may have contracted the virus while spending time in China.
The two anti-CQV IgG antibodies were detected in Karnataka in 2014 and 2017, respectively. The rarity and time difference between the two positive samples is indicative that local transmission is not yet occurring.
“Anti-CQV IgG antibody positivity in human serum samples tested and the replication capability of CQV in mosquitoes indicated a possible disease-causing potential of CQV in the Indian scenario. Screening of more human and swine serum samples using these assays is required as a proactive measure for understanding the prevalence of this neglected tropical virus,” stated ICMR research published in June.
Following the spread of COVID-19 at the beginning of the year from Wuhan, China, a number of other diseases have been notified as being potential candidates for a new pandemic.
Brucellosis, another disease associated with livestock animals has been notified as an example of another potential disease spreading out of China. An outbreak took place late last year in December in Lanzhou, capital of China’s Gansu province. Since then, evidence has arisen indicating proliferation of the disease within India.
India can seldom afford to allow the spread of yet another mosquito-borne disease. With malaria, dengue fever, chikungunya and a host of other conditions already endemic to many areas of the country, another vector-borne condition could be devastating, particularly given the severe symptoms.