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West Nile fever in Kerala: State govt orders all districts to be vigilant

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THIRUVANANTHAPURAM, May 7: The Kerala government on Tuesday said that West Nile fever cases have been reported from Thrissur, Malappuram and Kozhikode districts of the state.

State Health Minister Veena George, in a statement, confirmed that cases of the viral infection have been reported in the state and that all the districts have been asked to be vigilant.

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As part of the vigil against the viral fever, spread by the Culex species of mosquitoes, the Minister has ordered that steps be taken for mosquito control by destroying their breeding grounds, the statement said.

The minister said that there was no need to be concerned, but requested anyone showing signs of fever or other symptoms of the West Nile infection to seek treatment immediately.

The main symptoms of West Nile infection are headache, fever, muscle aches, dizziness and loss of memory, but most patients do not experience these, she said.

Some people experience symptoms like fever, headache, vomiting and itching and in one per cent of the cases, it can lead to brain damage resulting in unconsciousness and sometimes death, the minister’s statement said.

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But the death rate is relatively low compared to Japanese encephalitis which shows similar symptoms and is more dangerous.

It said that instructions to begin pre-monsoon cleaning activities were already given in a high-level meeting held last week and now the District Medical Officers (DMOs) have been directed to further intensify the same.

As there is no medicine or vaccine available against West Nile virus, symptomatic treatment and prevention are key, the minister said.

As part of the preventive measures, she suggested wearing clothing that completely covers the body, use of mosquito nets and repellants and keeping one’s home and surroundings clean.

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Earlier in the day, Kozhikode district health officials confirmed reports of five cases of West Nile fever there.

The infected persons, which included children, are all fine now and back at their homes with no new cases reported from the areas they live in, an official of the Kozhikode district surveillance team said.

He also said that presently there was one person who is suspected of suffering from the vector-borne infection and is undergoing treatment.

The official said that the samples of those who exhibited symptoms of the disease and had undergone treatment were sent to the National Institute of Virology in Pune as a routine exercise.

“The results came back now and indicated that they were suffering from West Nile fever. They are all better now,” he said.

The West Nile fever is spread by the Culex species of mosquitoes. It was first detected in 1937 in Uganda.

The fever was first detected in Kerala in 2011 and a six-year-old boy from Malappuram died due to the fever in 2019.

Thereafter, in May 2022, a 47-year-old man died of the fever in Thrissur district.

The West Nile virus can cause a fatal neurological disease in humans but most of those infected may not show any symptoms. (PTI)





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