In Kerala, after a six-year-old from Malappuram died of West Nile fever on Monday, rampant vector control measures have been undertaken in the city. The child, according to health officials, got this rare viral disease through mosquito bites but people have also been asked to keep a watch out for places where birds are in high density, since they are an intermediary too. This disease does not spread from human to human contact, according to officials.
The child was under treatment in Kozhikode Medical College. "This is not the first case of West Nile disease in India, but this could be the first death reported. In Kerala itself, in 2018 we had one case of West Nile fever, which was confirmed through tests at Manipal but not at National Institute of Virology. There is no need to panic. The mortality rate for West Nile is very low at 1 out 150 perhaps, though Japanese Encephalitis has a higher mortality rate. People need to take precautionary measures", Dr Meenakshi, a senior health official with the Government of Kerala, told NDTV.
The central health ministry along with National Centre For Disease Control reviewed Kerala's preparedness and action taken to deal with West Nile Fever.
"The Ministry has also recommended vector surveillance and control to be carried out in coordination with National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme (NVBDCP). All cases of JE/AES are to be investigated as per guidelines of JE/AES and also tested for West Nile Virus. Further, the community is to be sensitized through IEC campaigns on use of personal protective measures to prevent mosquito bites as per NVBDCP Guidelines.
West Nile Fever is a mosquito borne zoonotic disease caused by a flavivirus -West Nile Virus (WNV). This virus is related to viruses that cause Japanese Encephalitis, yellow fever and St. Louis encephalitis", the official statement of the ministry said.
Kerala Health Minister K K Shailaja had earlier said, "There is no need for panic as strong precautionary measures have been taken. If treated early, West Nile virus can be cured, so if there is fever or other symptoms, one has to seek medical help at the earliest."
The early symptoms of the disease includes fever and severe headache. "If anyone has symptoms, they should consult a doctor immediately and not self-medicate. Identifying the disease at the earliest is the key for treatment," a senior state medical official said.