A man who was undergoing treatment for West Nile fever in Kerala's Thrissur succumbed to it on Sunday.
Kerala's health department has sounded an alert in the wake of the death. West Nile fever, spread by the Culex species of mosquitoes, had earlier claimed a life in Kerala in 2019.
What is West Nile Virus (WNV) ?
WNV is an infectious disease spread by infected mosquitoes. It spreads from birds to humans with the bite of an infected Culex mosquito. It can lead to a fatal neurological disease in humans.
The virus causes West Nile fever in around 20 percent of cases, according to World Health Organization (WHO). It is related to the Zika, dengue and yellow fever viruses.
Origination of WNV:
According to WHO, WNV was first isolated in a woman in the West Nile district of Uganda in 1937. It was identified in birds (crows and columbiformes) in Nile delta region in 1953.
Before 1997, WNV was not considered pathogenic for birds, but at that time in Israel a more virulent strain caused the death of different bird species presenting signs of encephalitis and paralysis. Human infections attributable to WNV have been reported in many countries for over 50 years, the WHO said.
Symptoms of WNV:
Usually people who get WNV have no symptoms or mild symptoms. The symptoms include a fever, headache, body aches, skin rash, and swollen lymph glands. They can last a few days to several weeks, and usually go away on their own.
How can it be diagnosed?
WNV can be detected after a physical exam, medical history, and laboratory tests.
Cure for WNV:
There are no specific vaccines or treatments for human WNV disease. The best way to avoid WNV is to prevent mosquito bites. Treatment is supportive for patients with neuro-invasive West Nile virus, often involving hospitalization, intravenous fluids, respiratory support, and prevention of secondary infections.