Health advisory in Tamil Nadu: Watch for West Nile Symptoms, seek prompt testing

Although the virus affected people of all age groups, those above 50 years and immunodeficient people are more prone to it.
Common symptoms of the viral disease, which spreads from culex species of mosquitoes,  include fever, headache, and body pain.
Common symptoms of the viral disease, which spreads from culex species of mosquitoes, include fever, headache, and body pain. (Representative image)

CHENNAI: In the wake of Kerala reporting cases of West Nile fever, the state government’s public health and preventive medicine department has issued an advisory urging the need for testing and immediate medical intervention for people showing symptoms, especially encephalitis. However, the department stressed that there was no need to panic.

The disease has so far been reported from three districts of Kerala, namely Kozhikode, Malappuram, Thrissur. One person died due to the virus on Monday.

Common symptoms of the viral disease, which spreads from culex species of mosquitoes, include fever, headache, and body pain. Some people might have severe symptoms like high fever, fatigue, coma, muscle weakness, numbness, fits, paralysis, and encephalitis, the release said.

The release from the government noted that people can be tested for the virus through ELISA (Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay) and RT-PCR (Reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction) tests. National Institute of Virology (NIV) Pune has the facility to test samples collected from people who are suspected to have the virus, the release said.

According to the release, at least 80 % of the people affected by the virus will be asymptomatic. Although the virus affected people of all age groups, those above 50 years and immunodeficient people are more prone to it. Noting that the disease spreads through mosquitoes, the release, however, said that it does not spread directly from human to human. To prevent spread of the virus, the release asked people to avoid water stagnation, and mosquito breeding around their homes.

As there is no vaccination for the disease, the government asked symptomatic people to visit a doctor immediately. To prevent dehydration caused by the disease, it asked people to consume adequate water and fluids. The release also told people not to self-medicate. For more information, people can contact the health department’s 104 helpline.

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