Kerala: After 6-year-old dieds of West Nile fever, Malappuram on alert

Shaju Philip
The West Nile fever is spread by mosquitoes. (Representational)

Following the death of a six-year-old boy after he was infected with West Nile virus, the health department has sounded alert in Malappuram district. The victim T C Muhammed Shahan, a native of A R Nagar in Malappuram district, died on Monday after battling with the fever for a month.

This is the third time that West Nile virus is detected in Kerala. The virus was first reported in the state in Alappuzha in 2006 and then in Ernakulam in 2011.

Malappuram district medical officer Dr K Sakeena said vector control mechanism has been strengthened in the district, particularly in the victim's locality. "This virus is spread by Culex mosquito. The presence of the mosquito is high in many parts of the district,'' she said.

The DMO said so far no other suspected case of the virus has been reported from the district. Samples of patients with West Nile fever symptoms would be send to the Virology Lab in Alappuzha to clear any doubts.

Professor at the Institute of Virology at Manipal Academy of Higher Education, Dr G Arunkumar said there is nothing to panic about as this cannot be reckoned as an outbreak of West Nile virus. "Normally, we have surveillance system only for Japanese encephalitis. Our labs don't regularly look for West Nile virus because the surveillance mechanism for this virus is very weak across the country," he said.