BACKGROUND An outbreak of acute encephalitis syndrome (AES) was reported in Kerala in India in May 2011. The outbreak features were unusual in terms of seasonality, geographical distribution, age group, and clinical manifestations in comparison to the epidemiological features of Japanese Encephalitis. OBJECTIVE To detect the etiology of the acute encephalitis syndrome outbreak. STUDY DESIGN Investigation of outbreak was undertaken by collection of brief clinical history and epidemiological details along with the specimens for viral diagnosis. The serum/CSF samples (patients=208) received from the sentinel hospitals were subjected to IgM capture ELISA and RT-PCR specific for Japanese encephalitis (JE) virus and West Nile virus (WNV). The JE/WN IgM positive samples were further tested by serum neutralization assay for the presence of JE and WNV specific neutralizing antibody. RESULT Most of the affected patients were aged above 15 years. No spatial clustering of the disease was noticed. Cases were observed in premonsoon and early monsoon season and in JE non-endemic area of Kerala. A total of 47 patient samples were positive for in-house JE IgM capture ELISA and WNV IgM capture ELISA. Serum neutralization assay result revealed that 32 of 42 (76.19%) sera were positive for WNV neutralization antibodies. WNV was isolated from a clinical specimen. Phylogenetic analysis of WNV envelope gene revealed 99% homology with Russian Lineage 1 WNV. CONCLUSION West Nile virus (WNV) etiology was confirmed by virus isolation and detection of virus specific antibody from clinical specimen. Phylogenetic analysis grouped the current strain in lineage I West Nile virus.