Unpredictable and virulent symptoms of the disease have made it difficult for doctors to diagnose it. A majority of dengue deaths in 2018 were attributed to the symptoms turning lethal in just two-three days of diagnosis with little or no warning. In light of such incidents, the National Institute of Cholera and Enteric Diseases (NICED) proposed a research on identifying dengue biomarkers to gauge its severity from blood samples.
“A marker can help predict if the symptoms are likely to get serious. Just like NS1 helps identify if a blood sample has the virus, we are now looking for markers that will indicate the course the symptoms may run,” NICED director Shanta Dutta said.
“Unlike in cases in the past, symptoms are getting confusing; they are suddenly taking a turn for the worse without any warning. Platelet drop and haemorrhage used to be taken as danger signals till recently. But the virus now turns fatal even without these symptoms. Patients have succumbed in a period of two-three days this year,” said Joydeep Ghosh, internal medicine consultant at Fortis Hospital.
Virologist Amitabha Nandy said. “The dengue virus has been attacking abdominal organs this year rather than triggering haemorrhage or a platelet drop. It was different the year before.”
“The raised level of lipopolysaccharide in severe dengue cases can be a good marker,” said consultant Arindam Biswas, adding that the presence of a certain type of protein (inter-alpha-inhibitory protein) can help predict the severity of the disease in children.