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West Nile Virus scare glares at Kerala

Health Ministry takes stock of the public health measures for controlling West Nile Virus (WNV) in Kerala

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A seven-year old boy from Malappuram District of Kerala is said to be suffering from a West Nile Virus (WNV), a mosquito-borne disease, mostly reported in the continental United States.

Union Health minister, J P Nadda, informed that they are closely monitoring the situation and has reviewed it with Preeti Sudan, health, secretary and he has directed for all support to be extended to Kerala in its prevention and management.

The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has also been alerted and a close watch is being maintained at Central and State level. There are no reports available so far for spread of this virus in other parts of the country.

The health ministry has dispatched a multi-disciplinary central team from National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC). The team will support the State Health Authorities in managing the disease.

As per World Health Organisation (WHO) West Nile Virus can cause neurological disease and death in people. It is commonly found in Africa, Europe, the Middle East, North America and West Asia. WNV is maintained in nature in a cycle involving transmission between birds and mosquitoes. Humans, horses and other mammals can be infected.

Last year the Kerala reported 19 Nipah virus (NiV) cases, including 17 deaths and 18 of the cases were laboratory-confirmed and the deceased index case was suspected to have NiV but could not be tested. The outbreak was localized to two districts in Kerala State: Kozhikode and Malappuram. Nipah infection was an zoonotic disease transmitted to humans through infected fruit bats, pigs or other Nipah-infected persons.

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