Government issues advisory in wake of West Nile virus cases in Kerala

Published - May 11, 2024 09:17 pm IST - CHENNAI

In the wake of Kerala reporting cases of West Nile virus, the Directorate of Public Health (DPH) and Preventive Medicine has issued an advisory on the prevention of the mosquito-borne disease and the importance of prompt testing and treatment.

In a press release issued on Saturday, the directorate said that recently, cases of West Nile virus had been identified in Kozhikode, Malappuram, and Thrissur districts of Kerala.

The West Nile virus is spread through the bite of an infected mosquito. The DPH said 80% of those affected do not experience symptoms. However, symptoms such as fever, headache, vomiting, and bodyache may be experienced by those infected. Some persons may experience severe symptoms such as high fever, stiff neck, dizziness, coma, weakness, numbness, convulsions, muscle weakness, paralysis, and encephalitis.

The virus can affect people of all ages. However, persons aged above 50 and those with low immunity are more easily affected. West Nile virus is commonly seen in Africa, Europe, North America, and West Asia.

In case of symptoms of West Nile virus, especially encephalitis, it is important to get tested, the directorate said. Testing for the West Nile virus can be done through Elisa and RT-PCR. Samples from persons suspected to have been infected can be lifted and tested at the National Institute of Virology, Pune. There is no need to panic if the fever spreads. People should get appropriate treatment based on medical advice, and they should stay adequately hydrated to prevent dehydration due to fever.

The directorate reiterated the need to identify mosquito breeding sources and take up control measures. The surroundings of houses should be kept clean and free from water stagnation. Unlike for Japanese Encephalitis, there is no vaccination for West Nile virus. So, it was important to get treated immediately and take up preventive measures.

The DPH also advised wearing clothes that cover the body completely and use mosquito nets and repellents. People should avoid self-medicating. For further details, contact the State Health Department’s helpline number 104.

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