West Nile Virus case reported in Kerala

Recently there was a report that a seven year old boy from Malappuram District of Kerala is suffering from a West Nile Virus (WNV), a mosquito-borne disease.

  • It is not first time that disease has been reported in India. It was documented in north- eastern region of India during the year 2006 from four districts (Japanese encephalitis (JE) endemic areas) of Assam; in which 11.6% of serum samples of AES (acute encephalitis syndrome) cases were found positive for IgM against WNV (these samples were negative for IgM against JE virus).   
  • During an outbreak of AES in Kerala, in May 2011, presence of WNV was confirmed in clinical specimens. Since then, WNV encephalitis cases have regularly been reported in Kerala

About West Nile Virus

According to the World Health Organization: 

  • West Nile Virus (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.
  • West Nile virus can cause a fatal neurological disease in humans.
  • However, approximately 80% of people who are infected will not show any symptoms.
  • West Nile virus is mainly transmitted to people through the bites of infected mosquitoes.
  • The virus can cause severe disease and death in horses.
  • Vaccines are available for use in horses but not yet available for people.
  • Birds are the natural hosts of West Nile virus.
  • It can cause neurological disease and death in people.
  • It is commonly found in Africa, Europe, the Middle East, North America and West Asia.
  • It is maintained in nature in a cycle involving transmission between birds and mosquitoes. Humans, horses and other mammals can be infected.
  • It is a member of the flavivirus genus and belongs to the Japanese encephalitis antigenic complex of the family Flaviviridae.

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