Malappuram boy succumbs to West Nile fever

Malappuram boy succumbs to West Nile fever
The Kozhikode Medical College hospital. Photo: Abu Hashim

Kozhikode: A six-year-old boy, who had tested positive for West Nile fever, died at the Government Medical College Hospital, Kozhikode, in the wee hours of Monday. Though there was some improvement in the health condition of the boy for the past two days, suddenly his condition worsened on Monday, hospital sources said.

The boy breathed his last at around 3 am. The body was brought to AR Nagar and buried at a nearby mosque at 9.30am. Though the burial was planned at around 11am, it was advanced as per the directions of the health officials. Malappuram district medical officer Dr K Sakeena and officials from the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare as well as the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) were present.

Last week, a disease surveillance team from the Centre, led by regional director Dr Ruchi Jain, had inspected areas of his residence as well as the medical college hospital to investigate the mosquito-borne viral infection. They had collected mosquito samples and sent them to the Kerala State Institute of Virology and Infectious Disease, Alappuzha. The blood samples collected from the birds in the area were sent to Veterinary Vaccine institute at Hisar in Haryana. The medical team is camping in Malappuram for three days.

The Union health ministry had also alerted the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and found that there was no cause of alarm in the state presently since the disease would not spread through human interaction.

What is West Nile fever

The West Nile virus was first isolated from a 37-year-old woman at Omogo in the West Nile District of Uganda in 1937 and hence the name. The disease-causing virus spreads from birds to mosquito and reaches the humans. Till date, the disease has been reported in nearly 12 countries. Culex mosquitoes that bite usually during night spread the disease in humans. Though the disease does not spread from human to human, breast-fed babies are likely to contract the virus from infected mothers. Similar is the risk in blood and organ transfers.


Pain in the eyes, fever, body pain, vomiting, diarrhoea and skin rashes are the common symptoms of the disease. In most cases, symptoms surface in the patient from the second or sixth day after contracting the virus. In some cases, the symptoms do not surface even for first two weeks.

Gravity of the disease

In most of the affected cases, West Nile virus is not dangerous. Almost 80 per cent of the patients were brought back to life through proper treatment. However, people of all ages might contract the disease and the best way to keep away this virus is to make the environment mosquito-free.