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The Kerala government said that cases of West Nile fever have been reported from three districts in the state – Thrissur, Malappuram and Kozhikode. One person died of the viral disease on Monday and six other cases have been reported in recent days.

What is West Nile Fever?

  • It is a disease caused by the West Nile Virus (WNV).
  • WNV is a member of the flavivirus genus and belongs to the Japanese encephalitis antigenic complex of the family Flaviviridae.
  • Birds are the natural hosts of WNV.
  • The virus is commonly found in Africa, Europe, the Middle East, North America, and West Asia.
  • It can cause a deadly neurological disease in humans.
  • It is named after the West Nile district of Uganda, where it was first identified in 1937.
  • It is most commonly spread to people by the bite of an infected mosquito. The mosquitoes get the virus when they bite an infected bird.
  • There is no evidence that WNV can be spread directly from one person to another.
  • But there have been a few cases where it has spread through organ transplants.
  • Most people infected by the virus are asymptomatic (no symptoms).
  • Symptoms include fever, headache, tiredness, body aches, nausea, vomiting, occasional skin rash, and swollen lymph glands.
  • There is no medicine or vaccine available against the WNV.
  • Treatment is based on supportive care involving hospitalisation, intravenous fluids, respiratory support, and prevention of secondary infections.