A six-year-old boy in North Kerala, who was infected with the West Nile virus, died on Monday morning.
The health authorities have stepped up vigil against the spread of the virus, which has not been reported in the state for many years.
Mohammed Shan, son of Chekutty from Vengara in Malappuram district, died at the Kozhikode Medical College hospital on Monday morning after about ten days of treatment.
The virus had badly affected his brain and nervous system, hospital sources said.
A central team had visited Kerala last week after the disease was reported. As per the advice of the team, the drive against mosquitoes and migratory birds, which are the major carriers of the virus, is being carried out.
The virus will not spread from human to human. There is no preventive vaccination against the virus and hence steps such as the drive against mosquitoes and the surveillance on bird deaths are being initiated with the support of agencies like the Animal Husbandry Department, health department sources said.
Malappuram district medical officer Dr Sakeena said that there is no need for a scare among people as the chances of the virus leading to severe conditions is very remote. Only one among 200 to 250 persons being infected may suffer the severe conditions, she said.
She said that all hospitals in the region were alerted to conduct a detailed examination of those who seek treatment, especially children, for fever, vomiting and giddiness. Samples will be sent to laboratories in Manipal or Pune for testing.
Health department sources said West Nile cases were last reported in the state during the 2005-06 period. It is being reported in Malappuram district for the first time.