West Nile Fever Knocks the door of India
Six year boy dies in Malappuram District of Kerala
The Voice of Chandigarh News
Under the guidelines of Integrated Disease Surveillance Project(IDSP) of Government of India, any case of a disease or death due to virus infection which was never reported in the past in a particular area and if reported should be considered as an ‘Epidemic’. In such a situation, the area should be put on high alert and appropriate Surveillance activities launched followed by further epidemiological investigation for the institution of control measures in the area to contain the spread of disease.
A six year boy who tested positive for West Nile Virus died in Kozhikode medical college as per sources. Perhaps this could be the first case of confirmed death due to the virus in Malappuram in Kerala.
The Health authorities issued an alert in the area because to the fact that the death due to West Nile Virus occurred in Malappurum which was never reported in the area in the past.
West Nile Virus is a disease which spreads from birds to humans with the bite of an infected Culex mosquito. The symptoms include cold, fever, body ache, fatigue and nausea, with complications leading to meningitis and death.
“No need to panic. The boy was in the isolation ward for the last 10 days. We are on high alert and going by the protocol of the World Health Organisation,” Kerala health minister K K Shylaja said, adding that the state was in constant touch with the union health ministry. Another senior health officer said all who were in contact with the child, including parents and medical professionals, are under observation.
West Nile Fever is a mosquito borne zoonotic disease caused by a flavivirus -West Nile Virus (WNV). This virus is related to viruses that cause Japanese Encephalitis, yellow fever and St. Louis encephalitis”, the official statement of the ministry said.
The Voice of Chandigarh spoke to the Health experts and professionals about WNV, particularly about the first confirmed death due to the virus. The experts shared their views and suggested remedial measures to contain the disease.
Dr. Ashwani Kumar, Director SOVE (Society for Vector Ecology) Indian Region
“West Nile Virus (WNV) is closely related to the Japanese Encephalitis virus. It was first isolated from West Nile District of Uganda in 1937. Since then several outbreaks of disease have been reported in different parts of the world. Birds, cats, dogs, horses and bats are the reservoir of the WNV.” Dr. Kumar further said that “WNV is not new to India as it was first time isolated in 1952. Since then it has been isolated in many parts especially from the south Indian States from time to time by National Institute of Virology Pune.”
He continued further and stated that” mosquitoes like Culex pipiens/ fatigans and Culex quinquefasciatus are the vectors which transmit WNV between birds and finally from birds to humans. Mortality in humans is high in patients with complications.” Dr. Kumar categorically said that there is no specific treatment or vaccine for human administration so far.
The disease can be prevented by reduction of mosquito genic sources and through effective vector control including the personal protection measures. Surveillance is of utmost importance of for vectors and WNV.
Dr. R. S. Sharma, Former Additional Director National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme GOI and WHO Expert says that “Proactive Entomological Surveillance is needed in the affected areas to contain the vector population and disease transmission. The country should develop Entomological capacity and revive entomological zones. More Biologists are needed under urban areas so as to continue entomological surveillance throughout the year. Since there is no treatment or the vaccine available for humans or the patients, therefore, vector control measures and fever surveillance for WNV should be the priority.”
Prof. Jagbir Singh former Prof. & H.O.D of Department of Zoology and Environmental Sciences Punjabi University Patiala and now Advisor SOVE (Society for Vector Ecology)
Without mincing the words Prof. Jagbir Singh says, “In my views, we have denuded the natural forests and have created the planet responsible for Vector-Borne Diseases. As a result of that new niches have become available for viruses and pathogens and other disease-causing agents.” He further elaborated that new viruses in the unstable ecosystem have led to this situation. We have to create capacity building exercises in colleges, intuitions and schools and plant more trees. The best preventive measures are to reduce the mosquito breeding places and lay more stress in strengthening the Entomological components in all the states.
It may be recalled that seven months ago, another women patient from Kozhikode was admitted to the Medical College and Hospital with West Nile Virus-like symptoms. But she was tested negative for the virus.
Since it is the first confirmed death due to WNV, the Indian Government needs to put all the states on high alert and immediate steps are required to be geared up. If the sources are to be believed the WNV has knocked the door of India as the Virus has already invaded in Kerala.