GS Paper - 2 (Diseases)

The Kerala health department is on alert after the death of a 47-year-old from Thrissur due to the West Nile Virus. Earlier in 2019, a six-year-old boy in Malappuram district had died of the same infection. The virus was first reported in the state of Alappuzha in 2006 and then in Ernakulam in 2011.

More about Virus

  1. The West Nile Virus is a mosquito-borne, single-stranded RNA virus. According to the WHO, it is “a member of the flavivirus genus and belongs to the Japanese Encephalitis antigenic complex of the family Flaviviridae”.
  2. Culex species of mosquitoes act as the principal vectors for transmission. It is transmitted by infected mosquitoes between and among humans and animals, including birds, which are the reservoir host of the virus.
  3. Mosquitoes become infected when they feed on infected birds, which circulate the virus in their blood for a few days.
  4. The virus eventually gets into the mosquito’s salivary glands. During later blood meals (when mosquitoes bite), the virus may be injected into humans and animals, where it can multiply and possibly cause illness,” the WHO says.
  5. WNV can also spread through blood transfusion, from an infected mother to her child, or through exposure to the virus in laboratories. It is not known to spread by contact with infected humans or animals.
  6. 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.
  7. In these 20% cases, the symptoms include fever, headache, fatigue, body aches, nausea, rash, and swollen glands.
  8. Severe infection can lead to encephalitis, meningitis, paralysis, and even death.