Government issues advisory in view of West Nile virus cases in Kerala

In view of the emergence of West Nile virus cases in Kerala, the Directorate of Public Health (DPH) and Preventive Medicine has issued an advisory on prevention of the mosquito-borne disease and the importance of early testing and treatment.

In a press release issued on Saturday, the directorate said that recently, cases of West Nile virus were identified in Kozhikode, Malappuram and Thrissur districts of Kerala.

West Nile virus is spread by the bite of an infected mosquito. DPH said 80% of those affected do not experience symptoms. However, infected people may experience symptoms such as fever, headache, vomiting and body aches. Some individuals may experience serious symptoms such as high fever, stiff neck, dizziness, coma, weakness, numbness, convulsions, muscle weakness, paralysis, and encephalitis.

This virus can affect people of all ages. However, individuals over the age of 50 and those with low immunity are more easily affected. West Nile virus is commonly seen in Africa, Europe, North America, and West Asia.

The directorate said it is important to get tested for West Nile virus, especially in case of symptoms of encephalitis. West Nile virus can be tested for via ELISA and RT-PCR. Samples of persons suspected to be infected can be collected and tested at the National Institute of Virology, Pune. There is no need to panic if fever spreads. People should receive appropriate treatment based on medical advice and should remain adequately hydrated to prevent dehydration caused by fever.

The directorate reiterated the need to identify breeding sources of mosquitoes and take control measures. The surroundings of the house should be kept clean and free from water logging. Unlike Japanese encephalitis, there is no vaccination for West Nile virus. Therefore, it was important to seek immediate treatment and take preventive measures.

The DPH also advised wearing clothing that covers the body completely and using mosquito nets and repellents. People should avoid self-medicating. For more information contact the helpline number 104 of the State Health Department.

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