• The Union health ministry has sent a disease surveillance team to Kerala to investigate a case of West Nile fever.
West Nile Virus
• West Nile virus can cause a fatal neurological disease in humans.
• However, approximately 80% of people who are infected do not show any symptoms.
• West Nile virus is mainly transmitted to people through the bites of infected mosquitoes.
• The virus can cause severe disease and death in horses.
• Vaccines are available for use in horses but not yet available for people.
• It does not have specific treatment either.
• Birds are the natural hosts of West Nile virus. It spreads to human by Culex mosquitoes. Mosquitoes become infected when they feed on infected birds.
• WNV was first isolated from a patient from the West Nile district of Northern Uganda in 1937.
Cases in India
• WNV is very uncommon in India. However, WNV infections have been reported from Vellore and Kolar districts during 1977, 1978 and 1981.
• During an outbreak of Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) in Kerala, in May 2011, the presence of WNV was confirmed in clinical specimens.
Mains Paper 2: Health
Prelims Level: West Nile virus