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Kerala Sounds Alert After Man Dies Of West Nile Fever. Check Key Symptoms Of Vector-Borne Disease
West Nile virus (WNV) is an infectious disease spread by infected mosquitoes of Culex species. Mosquitoes become infected when they feed on infected birds. Infected mosquitoes then spread West Nile virus to people and other animals by biting them.
Thrissur: The Kerala health department on Sunday sounded an alert in the state for a possible spread of West Nile fever. The alert was sounded after a person who was undergoing treatment for vector-borne disease in Thrissur succumbed to it today. This is the first such case of of West Nile fever, that spread through Culex species of mosquitoes, reported in recent time. The disease earlier claimed a life in Kerala in 2019.
As per officials, two contacts of the victim, Puthanpurackal Joby (47) had also developed symptoms of the disease and their blood samples have been sent for investigation.
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What Is West Nile Fever, How Does It Spread?
West Nile virus (WNV) is an infectious disease spread by infected mosquitoes of Culex species. Mosquitoes become infected when they feed on infected birds. Infected mosquitoes then spread West Nile virus to people and other animals by biting them. According to United States of America’s Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in a very small number of cases, West Nile virus has also been spread through exposure in a laboratory setting, Blood transfusion and organ transplant and Mother to baby, during pregnancy, delivery, or breast feeding.
There are no vaccines to prevent or medications to treat WNV in people. Fortunately, most people infected with WNV do not feel sick. About 1 in 5 people who are infected develop a fever and other symptoms, and only 1 out of 150 infected people develop a serious, sometimes fatal, illness, according to CDS. The risk of getting infected by WNV can be reduced by using insect repellent and wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants to prevent mosquito bites.
Symptoms of West Nile Fever
Most people (about 8 out of 10) infected by WNV do not develop any symptoms. However, 1 in 5 people, who are infected by the virus, may develop a fever with headache, body aches, joint pains, vomiting, diarrhea, or rash. Most people with febrile illness (fever) recover completely, but fatigue and weakness can last for weeks or months.
According to CDC, about 1 in 150 people who are infected by WNV develop a severe illness affecting the central nervous system such as encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) or meningitis (inflammation of the membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord).
Symptoms of severe WNV infection include high fever, headache, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, vision loss, numbness and paralysis. Severe illness can occur in people of any age; however, people over 60 years of age are at greater risk for severe illness if they are infected (1 in 50 people).
People with certain medical conditions, such as cancer, diabetes, hypertension, kidney disease, and people who have received organ transplants, are also at greater risk. Recovery from severe illness might take several weeks or months.
Some effects to the central nervous system might be permanent. About 1 out of 10 people who develop severe illness affecting the central nervous system die, according to CDC.
Diagnosis of West Nile Fever
- See your healthcare provider if you develop the symptoms described above.
- Your healthcare provider can order tests to look for West Nile virus infection.
Treatment of West Nile Fever
- No vaccine or specific medicines are available for West Nile virus infection.
- Over-the-counter pain relievers can be used to reduce fever and relieve some symptoms.
- In severe cases, patients often need to be hospitalized to receive supportive treatment, such as intravenous fluids, pain medication, and nursing care.
- If you think you or a family member might have West Nile virus disease, talk with your health care provider.
Origination of WNV
According to WHO, WNV was first detected 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.
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