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West Nile Virus

  • Published
    30th May, 2022

The Kerala health department is on alert after the death of a 47-year-old from Thrissur due to the West Nile Virus.

West Nile Fever:

  • West Nile Fever is a disease caused by the West Nile Virus.
  • West Nile Virus (WNV) is a member of the flavivirus genus and belongs to the Japanese encephalitis antigenic complex of the family Flaviviridae.
    • Flavivirus is a group of positive, single-strand RNA viruses which mostly have arthropod vectors, and cause a number of serious human diseases such as yellow fever, dengue, encephalitis, hepatitis C, and West Nile Fever.
  • West Nile virus generally spreads to humans and animals from bites of infected mosquitoes.
    • c act as the principal vectors for transmission.
  • Mosquitoes get infected and carry the virus after biting infected birds.
  • It cannot infect another human from casual contact with an infected person or animal.


  • The disease is asymptomatic in 80% of the infected people.
  • The rest develop what is called the West Nile fever or severe West Nile disease.
  • In these 20% cases, the symptoms include fever, headache, fatigue, body aches, nausea, rash, and swollen glands.
  • Severe infection can lead to encephalitis, meningitis, paralysis, and even death.


  • West Nile Virus (WNV) was first isolated in a woman in the West Nile district of Uganda in 1937.
  • It was identified in birds (crows and columbiformes) in Nile delta region in 1953.
  • Before 1997 WNV was not considered pathogenic for birds, but at that time in Israel a more virulent strain caused the death of different bird species presenting signs of encephalitis and paralysis.

Outbreaks in India:

  • The virus was first reported in the state in Alappuzha in 2006 and then in Ernakulam in 2011.
  • In 2019, a six-year-old boy in Malappuram district had died of the same infection.

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