Has the reporting of West Nile fever cases from Kozhikode district this summer gone unnoticed?
A month after a boy from Malappuram died of West Nile fever in March, four cases of the infection have been reported from within the Kozhikode Corporation limits too. According to sources in the department, three Japanese Encephalitis cases were reported from areas such as Chathamangalam, Kundungal, and Vellayil between January and February.
The presence of the West Nile virus was identified from the mosquito samples collected from these areas and serum samples of the close contacts of the infected persons by a team from the National Centre for Disease Control. There could have been more unreported cases of the disease as 80% of the infected people do not show any symptoms, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Human infection is most often the result of bites from infected mosquitoes of the Culex genus.
“Mosquitoes become infected when they feed on infected birds, which circulate the virus in their blood for a few days,” says the WHO.
Kozhikode Additional District Medical Officer Asha Devi, who is in charge of the Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme (IDSP) that records data on various diseases in the district, told The Hindu that the information about the West Nile fever cases had been uploaded on the Health Department website on time. Asked about the possibility of sub-clinical infections, which do not show up the symptoms, she said nothing had been reported so far though the department was keeping a vigil.
Mosquito eradication works had been taken up in areas from where these cases were reported. Steps were also taken to create awareness among local residents, she added.
Health dept. clueless
The Health Department is, however, still clueless about the source of the West Nile infection in Malappuram as the samples of dead crows and mosquitoes collected from the premises of the boy had turned negative.
Another case of West Nile fever was also reported from the district in the course of the investigation into the mysterious outbreak of encephalitis in the past few months.
The department had formed a drastic response team and devised a treatment protocol after over 60 encephalitis cases were reported from Malappuram.
Doctors in private and government hospitals had been asked to report unusual fever cases to the surveillance team under the DMO to spot potential epidemic cases.
With the onset of the monsoon expected in the next two weeks, the possibility of mosquito breeding could be higher, said a senior Health Department official, adding that there need to be more vigil.