West Nile Fever Claims First Life in Kerala in Three Years
Man in Thrissur District Succumbs to Vector-Borne Infection
Thrissur, Kerala – In a tragic incident, a 47-year-old man from the Thrissur district in Kerala has become the first victim of West Nile fever in the state in the last three years. The news of his demise has raised concerns among the public, prompting health authorities to issue warnings and guidelines to prevent further spread of the disease.
A Brief History of West Nile Fever
West Nile fever, caused by the Culex species of mosquitoes, was first identified in Uganda in 1937. Since then, the virus has spread to various parts of the world. India reported its first case of West Nile fever in 2011 when a six-year-old boy from Malappuram succumbed to the infection in 2019.
How Does the Virus Spread?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), West Nile fever is transmitted through the bite of infected mosquitoes. Mosquito season, which extends from summer to fall, sees a rise in cases. The virus circulates between mosquitoes and birds, with infected mosquitoes transmitting it to humans and other animals. In rare cases, the virus can also spread through blood transfusions, organ transplants, mother-to-baby transmission during pregnancy, delivery, or breastfeeding, as well as exposure in a laboratory setting.
Recognizing the Symptoms
The symptoms of West Nile fever can be severe and often include high fever, headache, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, vision loss, numbness, and even paralysis. While severe illness can affect people of all ages, those over 60 years and individuals with certain medical conditions, such as cancer, diabetes, hypertension, kidney disease, and organ transplant recipients, are at a higher risk.
Long Road to Recovery
Recovering from severe West Nile fever can be a lengthy process, taking several weeks or months. In some cases, the effects on the central nervous system may be permanent. Shockingly, about 1 in 10 people with severe neurological illness caused by the virus do not survive.
Prevention and Treatment
Currently, there are no vaccines or specific medicines available to combat the West Nile virus. Over-the-counter pain relievers can be used to manage fever and alleviate symptoms. However, in severe cases, hospitalization is often required, with patients receiving supportive treatments such as intravenous fluids, pain medication, and nursing care.
With the recent fatality, health officials are urging the public to take precautionary measures to reduce mosquito breeding sites and protect themselves from mosquito bites.