How West Nile fever took life of Thrissur native, kept health authorities on their toes

West Nile virus infection
Joby (L) and health officials collecting vector samples in the place where West Nile virus infection was reported.

Mulankunnathukavu: The department of health has instructed the residents to be alert and follow hygiene after West Nile fever has been reported in the area. Minister K Rajan said that hygiene campaigns would be promoted as it is a mosquito-borne disease. A high-level meeting was convened at the Medical College in light of this. The meeting decided to set up more fever clinics at the Medical College hospital.

Meanwhile, district collector Haritha Kumar said that a meeting of the hospital development society would be soon convened. Dr. UR Rahul, district project manager of the health department, Medical College Principal Dr. Prathap Somanath, hospital superintendent Dr. R Biju Krishnan and liaison officer Dr. C Raveendran attended the meeting. The authorities informed that treatment facilities have been arranged at the institutions under the health department and at the medical college, if the symptoms show.

Health Minister Veena George joined the meeting online. As soon as the disease was confirmed, a special team from the health department had visited the patient’s home and premises, to strengthen the preventive measures. Meanwhile, measures to get rid of mosquitoes are progressing as the disease is spread by the culex mosquitoes. A special ‘dry day’ campaign was held at the Marakkal ward to destroy the mosquitoes. The panchayat samiti would convene a meeting on 31 May to discuss about the extensive preventive measures.

First victim

Joby is the first victim of the now confirmed West Nile fever. He was admitted in the hospital for a month, with fever and other difficulties, without knowing that he had West Nile fever. Joby, a daily labourer, had struggled to make the ends meet. His illness had put additional pressure on the financially backward family. They struggled to raise Rs 8.5 lakh that was required for Joby’s treatment. Even though he was put on ventilator, nothing could save Joby’s life.

It was on 24 April that Joby began showing symptoms of the disease. His hands and limbs were weak the next day. The fever lasted for four days; but by that time, he had been completely paralysed. On 27 April, he was admitted to a private hospital and was put on ventilator support the next day itself as he couldn’t breathe.


Joby was moved to the cooperative hospital and the general hospital as the family couldn’t bear the expenses at a private hospital. He was then shifted to the government medical college on 18 May. On 25 May, a swab test done at the National Institute of Virology in Alappuzha confirmed the disease. Joby died when he was still on ventilator. His hometown was shocked at this news as everyone knows Joby as a healthy and hard-working young man. Minister K Rajan visited Joby’s house to express his condolences and console the family members.


Headache, vomiting, fever, stomach ache, dysentery and weakening of hands and limbs are some of the common symptoms of the West Nile fever. This disease, which could affect the brain, could result in paralysis, epilepsy and memory loss. Do not hesitate to seek treatment if you have fever along with these symptoms.


It is important to keep the house and premises clean. Make sure that there aren’t any spots where mosquitoes could breed. Use mosquito nets and other preventive measures to keep away mosquitoes.

Culex mosquitoes

The presence of Culex mosquitoes, that is mostly seen is swamps and cities, have been found in the hilly regions of the Panancherry panchayat. The vector control unit found out that even the drinking water sources have been the breeding ground of these mosquitoes. So, not just the cities but the villages too need to be alert against the Culex mosquitoes.

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