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Man succumbs to West Nile fever in Kerala’s Thrissur, health dept on alert

Panancheri panchayat president P Raveendran said two bystanders of the victim have developed symptoms of the disease and their blood samples have been sent for investigation.

By: Express News Service | Thiruvananthapuram |
Updated: May 29, 2022 3:15:37 pm
The state health department has sounded an alert in the wake of the death. West Nile fever, spread by the Culex species of mosquitoes, had earlier claimed a life in Kerala in 2019.

Kerala on Sunday reported the death of a person due to West Nile fever in what was the first fatality attributed to the vector-borne disease in recent times. The victim, Puthanpurackal Joby (47), was a native of Panancheri in Thrissur district.

The state health department has sounded an alert in the wake of the death. West Nile fever, spread by the Culex species of mosquitoes, had earlier claimed a life in Kerala in 2019.

Officials said Joby developed fever and other symptoms on May 17 and was treated at various hospitals. Two days ago, he was admitted to the government medical college in Thrissur, where doctors diagnosed him with West Nile fever.

Panancheri panchayat president P Raveendran said two people who accompanied the victim at the hospital had developed symptoms of the disease and their blood samples had been sent for investigation.

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Health department authorities said preventive and precautionary steps have been taken in the region to deal with the situation. A dry day has been declared in Panancheri panchayat to destroy mosquito breeding sites in residential areas. Besides, more samples have been collected to ascertain the spread of the disease. “A meeting of health officials and panchayat members was convened to strengthen preventive measures, mainly to destroy the sources of mosquito breeding,” the panchayat president said.

According to the health department’s data, West Nile virus can cause a fatal neurological disease in humans. However, approximately 80 per cent of those infected will not show any symptoms. It is mainly transmitted through the bites of infected mosquitoes. Birds are natural hosts of the West Nile virus.

Human infection is most often the result of bites from infected mosquitoes. Mosquitoes become infected when they feed on infected birds and the virus circulates in their blood for a few days eventually reaching the mosquito’s salivary glands. Mosquito bites then transfer the virus to humans and animals, where it can multiply and possibly cause illness.

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