West Nile fever kills boy in Kerala the care facility on watch for more outbreaks

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As a six-year-old boy undergoing treatment for West Nile Fever died in Kerala’s Mallapuram, the government on Tuesday reviewed the current situation, preparedness and action taken to deal with the disease.

According to a Union Health and Family Welfare Ministry official, this could be the first fatality due to the vector-borne disease reported from the country.

The ministry, along with officials from the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), reviewed the state preparedness and action taken to deal with WNF in Mallapuram district, the official said.

A multi-disciplinary central team is already deputed in Mallapuram to investigate various epidemiological aspects of West Nile Virus there and also help the district administration in its prevention and management.

Kerala has been advised to follow the National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme guidelines of personal protective measures to prevent mosquito bites, while it also been recommended that vector surveillance and control be carried out.

“It has been advised that all cases of JE/AES are to be investigated as per guidelines of JE/AES (Japanese Encephalitis/Acute Encephalitis Syndrome) and also tested for West Nile Virus. Further, the community is to be sensitized through IEC campaigns on use of personal protective measures to prevent mosquito bites as per NVBDCP Guidelines,” the official added.

The boy, hailing from Malappuram district, was admitted to the intensive care unit of the Kozhikode Medical College Hospital last week after he tested positive for the virus. He died on Monday.

West Nile Fever is a mosquito-borne zoonotic disease caused by flavivirus WNV and is related to viruses that cause Japanese Encephalitis, yellow fever and St Louis encephalitis.

Testing for West Nile Virus is available at the National Institute of Virology, Pune, and National Institute of Virology, Allapuzha. Facility for xeno-diagnosis with respect to infection among vectors is available at the Vector Control Research Centre (VCRC), Kottayam.

The NCDC branch in Kozhikode, in coordination with the VCRC, Kottayam, will provide assistance for vector surveillance and xeno-diagnosis in the vector as well as prepare and disseminate a standardised hospital management protocol of AES case management to be followed by all hospitals catering to cases of AES.

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