Kerala govt issues alert against West Nile fever

Alert sounded against mosquito-borne viral infection after one death and around eight cases were reported from Kozhikode, Malappuram and Thrissur districts in recent days

May 07, 2024 06:56 pm | Updated May 08, 2024 12:38 pm IST - Kozhikode

The Kerala government on May 7 issued an alert in the State against West Nile fever, a mosquito-borne viral infection, after one death and around eight cases were reported from Kozhikode, Malappuram and Thrissur districts in recent days.

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According to official sources, the death of a 79-year-old man from Vadanappally in Thrissur on May 3 has been attributed to the infection. Five cases have so far been reported in Kozhikode. There are two suspected cases in Malappuram too.

Kozhikode District Collector Snehil Kumar Singh told the media in the evening that four of the five infected persons had been discharged from the Government Medical College Hospital. One person is still under treatment. Three of them are natives of Kozhikode city, and one each from Koodaranhi and Nanminda. Another suspected patient has been admitted to a private hospital, Mr. Singh added.

A statement from Health Minister Veena George said that the infection had been reported from various districts in the State since 2011 and there was no reason to worry. District Medical Officers have been told to intensify pre-monsoon cleaning drives across the State in coordination with the Department of Local Self-Government and the respective district administration, she added.

The infection was confirmed after samples of blood and cerebrospinal fluid of suspected patients were examined at the Virus Research and Diagnostic Lab attached to the medical college hospital. They were later sent to the National Institute of Virology, Pune, for official confirmation.


Symptoms of the infection include high fever, headache, neck stiffness, disorientation, stupor, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, and paralysis. Most of the symptoms are similar to that of Japanese Encephalitis. However, 80% of the patients need not show any symptoms.

The disease is spread by the Culex species of mosquitoes. As per the World Health Organisation, human infection is most often the result of bites from the infected mosquitoes. This happens when they feed on infected birds, which circulate the virus in their blood for a few days.

There has been no human-to-human transmission so far. The WHO says that the treatment is supportive for patients with neuro-invasive West Nile virus, often involving hospitalisation, intravenous fluids, respiratory support, and prevention of secondary infections. No vaccine is available for humans.

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