WEST NILE FEVER
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Nixa A man from Kerala’s Thrissur reportedly succumbed to West Nile fever
About West Nile fever
- The West Nile virus is a single-stranded RNA virusthat causes a mosquito-borne disease known as West Nile fever. The infection spreads amongst humans from infected bites of Culex mosquitoes
- These mosquitoes get the virus from infected birds since birds are the natural host for this virus. So, in addition to human beings, horses and other mammals can also get infected
- This virus causes mild, flu-like symptoms that include fever, headache, body aches, skin rash, and sometimes swollen lymph glands. Many a time, a person doesn’t even know he/she has been infected. But, if the infected person is over 60 years of age, and severely immunocompromised, then the chances of complications are high as the brain can get affected. This may further lead to life-threatening infections such as encephalitis or meningitis.
- Unfortunately, no specific treatment is available. And, since it is mostly asymptomatic; many people do not even realise they have been infected.
How is it different from malaria?
- The similarities are that they are both mosquito-borne diseases and sometimes, both can be potentially life-threatening. However, malaria is caused by a parasite called plasmodium, and the West Nile virus is a single-stranded RNA virus that causes West Nile fever.
- Also, while the female Anopheles mosquito transmits malaria to humans, Culex mosquitoes transmit the West Nile virus.
Additionally, malaria presents symptoms like fever with chills and, an immediately throbbing headache with chances of complications being high. But the symptoms of West Nile virus do not always immediately become evident. Treatment wise, malaria has a specific line of treatment and can be cured. There is no specific treatment for West Nile virus because it is a viral disease.