West Nile Virus: Centre sends expert team to Kerala

The Union Health Ministry on Thursday dispatched a team of experts to Kerala to aid the southern state in tackling the outbreak of the West Nile Virus that infected a 7-year-old boy at Malappuram.

While Union Health Minister J P Nadda has spoken to the Health Minister of Kerala, Health Secretary Preeti Sudan held a meeting with Additional Chief Secretary Rajeev Sadanandan to review the health situation.

The central team from the National Centre for Disease Control includes Ruchi Jain, regional health officer; Suneet Kaur, assistant director NCDC; E Rajendran, entomologist, NCDC Calicut; and Binoy Basu, epidemic intelligence service officer, NCDC.

The team would support the State Health Authorities in managing the disease, the ministry said in a statement.

The Indian Council of Medical Research has also been alerted and a close watch is being maintained. There were no reports available so far on the spread of this virus, said the statement.

The West Nile Virus was first detected in Mumbai in 1952 after which outbreaks were reported in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Assam.

“WNV is highly prevalent in India and usually causes mild, non-fatal dengue-like illness in humans. The incubation period is 1 to 6 days. In clinically overt cases, specific methods are not available for the treatment of WNV infection. However, in encephalitis cases supportive therapy is recommended,” three ICMR researchers from the National Institute of Virology, Pune wrote in a review article published in the Indian Journal of Medical Research in 2003.

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