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West Nile fever

West Nile fever case in Malappuram

A seven-year-old boy from Malappuram district has been diagnosed with West Nile fever, a relatively unknown viral infection in the Malabar region in recent times.

Where is it found?

Commonly found in Africa, Europe, the Middle East, North America and West Asia.

What is it?

The West Nile Virus (WNV) is a viral infection which is typically spread by mosquitoes and can cause neurological disease as well as death in people.

First detected in a woman in West Nile district of Uganda in 1937, the virus was later identified in Nile delta region in 1953.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the virus is a member of the flavivirus genus and belongs to the Japanese encephalitis antigenic complex of the family Flaviviridae.

The largest outbreaks of the virus were recorded in Greece, Israel, Romania, Russia and USA.

How does the virus spread or get transmitted?

The disease is transmitted to humans through mosquito bites.

Mosquitoes become infected when they feed on infected birds, which circulate the virus in their blood for a few days.

The virus gets transmitted into the mosquito’s salivary glands, from where it is injected into humans as well as animals through mosquito bites.

The virus can multiply in the process and possibly cause illness.

WNV may also be transmitted through contact with other infected animals, their blood or other tissues.

Till date, no human-to-human transmission through casual contact has been reported.

A very small proportion of human infections have occurred through organ transplant, blood transfusions and breast milk while one case of transplacental (mother to child) transmission has been reported.

Treatment of West Nile Virus

Those infected with the virus are required to be hospitalized and put on respiratory support and intravenous fluids. No vaccine is available for humans.

Symptoms of West Nile Virus

The infection is either asymptomatic (no symptoms) or can result in West Nile fever or severe West Nile disease. In case of severe West Nile disease (also called neuroinvasive disease, such as West Nile encephalitis or meningitis or West Nile poliomyelitis), the patient suffers from headache, high fever, neck stiffness, disorientation, stupor, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness and paralysis.

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