A seven-year-old boy from Malappuram district has been diagnosed with West Nile fever, a relatively unknown viral infection in the Malabar region in recent times.
This comes around seven months after a woman from Kozhikode district was admitted to the Government Medical College Hospital here with suspected systems. Her blood results, however, did not confirm the presence of the virus.
Mohamed Ismail, Deputy District Medical Officer, Malappuram, told The Hindu on Wednesday that the boy was undergoing treatment at the intensive care unit of the medical college hospital. He had fever and cold since mid-February and had been admitted to a private hospital in Kottakkal and later a private hospital before being shifted to the medical college hospital.
West Nile fever is spread by Culex mosquitoes and the infection could be confirmed only if the second samples test positive. Symptoms include fever, headache, tiredness, and body aches, nausea, vomiting, occasionally with a skin rash on the trunk of the body, and swollen lymph glands.
The World health Organisation (WHO) says that West Nile virus transmits to humans through bites from infected mosquitoes. Mosquitoes become infected when they feed on infected birds, which circulate the virus in their blood for a few days. Dr. Ismail said in 90% of patients, the virus would not show any symptoms and the blood samples were being sent to the laboratory only if patients developed complications. The presence of West Nile fever was first raised in Kerala over a decade ago in Kottayam and Alappuzha districts.
The Health Department staff believe that the source of Culex mosquitoes could be an uncovered pipe leading to the septic tank on the premises of the patient’s residence at Malappuram. Vector-control measures had been taken up in the area, Dr. Ismail added.