Kerala government seeks National Centre for Disease Control help to trace origin of West Nile virus

The West Nile virus infection is a mosquito-borne disease mostly reported in the continental United States and it had claimed the life of a six-year-old boy in Malappuram last month.

Published: 11th April 2019 04:35 AM  |   Last Updated: 11th April 2019 04:35 AM   |  A+A-

West Nile virus

West Nile virus

Express News Service

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM:  As the source of the West Nile virus infection remains untraceable, the state Health Department has put forward a proposal to the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to find its origin. A mosquito-borne disease mostly reported in the continental United States, it had claimed the life of a six-year-old boy in Malappuram last month. The proposal is to conduct epidemiological and entomological studies in Malappuram and Kozhikode districts. Earlier, the Union Ministry of Health had dispatched a multi-disciplinary team from NCDC to support the state in managing the disease. 

“A request in this regard has been forwarded to the NCDC and we are awaiting their reply. Finding the cause of the virus is important. For that the help of the Indian Council of Medical Research will also be sought,” said Rajeev Sadanandan, Health Secretary. 

In March, after the WNV was reported, Secretary, Union Ministry of Health, had held a meeting with the state Health Secretary and reviewed the situation.

Following the meeting, a multi-disciplinary team comprising of Dr Ruchi Jain, RHO Thiruvananthapuram, Dr Suneet Kaur, Assistant Director, NCDC, Dr E Rajendran, Entomologist, NCDC-Calicut and Dr Binoy Basu, EIS Officer, NCDC, were dispatched to assess the situation. “The findings of the  team have been submitted to the ministry,” said Dr Ruchi Jain. 

According to Dr Meenakshi V, Additional Director of Public Health, the study has been proposed as the department remains clueless about the source of the infection. Though the Vector Control Department had collected samples of mosquitoes from various parts of Venniyur, and sent them for examination at the National Institute of Virology in Alappuzha, it turned negative. The remains of four dead crows found in and around the area that were sent for examination also tested negative, she said. 

The Health Department pointed out that owing to the spike in Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) cases in Malappuram, Kozhikode and Wayanad districts, there is an urgent need for conducting an epidemiological and entomological study. AES which includes Japanese Encephalitis Virus (JEV), West Nile virus (WNV), Nipah (NiV), Kyasanur Forest Disease (KFD) and others is a group of clinical neurologic manifestation caused by wide range of viruses, bacteria, fungus, parasites, spirochetes, chemicals and toxins.

It is reported that typically the WNV spreads to humans and animals via infected mosquitoes that feed on infected birds and the incubation period — between the bite of an infected mosquito and the appearance of signs and symptoms of the illness — ranges from two to 14 days. 

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