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West Nile Fever cases in Kerala: Know causes, symptoms and prevention tips of this mosquito-borne disease

West Nile Fever may seem scary, but with proper precautions and awareness, we can prevent it from spreading. By taking these simple but effective steps, we can keep ourselves and our communities safe from this viral infection.

Written By: Kristina Das @https://twitter.com/KristinaDas2 New Delhi Updated on: May 08, 2024 12:09 IST
West Nile Virus
Image Source : FREEPIK Know what are West Nile Virus and its causes, symptoms, and prevention tips.

Kerala, known for its serene backwaters and lush greenery, has recently been in the news for a different reason - the outbreak of West Nile Fever. The state has reported several cases of this mosquito-borne viral infection, causing concern among its residents. 

Five cases of West Nile fever have been confirmed in the north Kerala district of Kozhikode, health officials said on Tuesday. The infected persons, which included children, are all fine now and back at their homes with no new cases reported from the areas they live in, an official of the district surveillance team said. The official said the samples of those who exhibited disease symptoms and had undergone treatment were sent to the National Institute of Virology in Pune as a routine exercise.

“The results came back now and indicated that they were suffering from West Nile fever. They are all better now,” he said.

The Culex species of mosquitoes spread the West Nile fever. It was first detected in 1937 in Uganda. The fever was first detected in Kerala in 2011 and a six-year-old boy from Malappuram died due to the fever in 2019. Thereafter, in May 2022, a 47-year-old man died of the fever in Thrissur district.

What is West Nile Fever?

West Nile Fever is caused by the West Nile virus (WNV), which is primarily transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito. The virus is commonly found in birds and can be transmitted to humans when a mosquito feeds on an infected bird and then bites a human. It is not a new disease and has been reported in various parts of the world, including Africa, Europe, the Middle East, and North America.

What are the symptoms of West Nile Fever?

The majority of people infected with WNV do not show any symptoms. However, about 20 per cent of people may experience mild symptoms such as fever, headache, body aches, nausea, and vomiting. In some cases, more severe symptoms can occur including high fever, neck stiffness, disorientation, tremors, muscle weakness or paralysis, and even coma or death. Adults over the age of 60 and those with weakened immune systems are at a higher risk of developing severe symptoms.

The symptoms of West Nile Fever may appear within 3-14 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito. If you experience any of these symptoms after being exposed to mosquitoes in Kerala or any other affected area, it is important to seek medical attention immediately.

Simple yet effective tips to keep yourself and your loved ones safe:

  • One of the most effective ways to prevent mosquito bites is to use insect repellent. 
  • When venturing outdoors, especially during peak mosquito activity times (dawn and dusk), wear long-sleeved shirts and pants to cover your skin and reduce the risk of getting bitten.
  • Mosquitoes breed in stagnant water, so it is important to eliminate any potential breeding sites around your home. 
  • If you live in an area prone to mosquitoes, consider using mosquito nets over your bed at night to prevent bites while sleeping.
  • Make sure to keep your windows and doors closed or screened to prevent mosquitoes from entering your home.
  • If you are planning to travel to areas where West Nile Fever is prevalent, make sure to check for any travel advisories or precautions that you should take to reduce your risk of getting infected.

Treatment:

There is currently no vaccination or treatment for West Nile virus infection. Viruses cannot be treated with antibiotics. Certain symptoms may be relieved by rest, water, and over-the-counter painkillers. Patients frequently require hospitalization in severe cases to obtain supportive care, which includes painkillers, IV fluids, and nursing attention.

However, apart from these preventive measures, it is also essential to keep yourself healthy and boost your immune system. A strong immune system can help fight off the virus if you do get infected. Eat a balanced diet, exercise regularly, and get enough rest to keep your immune system strong.

(With PTI Inputs)

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