West Nile virus strikes Greece again

Western Nile

Greece’s National Public Health Organisation (NPHO) announced in its weekly report on Thursday that five cases of infection with the West Nile virus have been diagnosed in Greece in 2019, up until July 18.

According to the report, three of the cases involved symptoms of the central nervous system (encephalitis or meningitis) and two had milder symptoms of fever.

No deaths linked to the virus have been reported so far, while the first confirmed case was on June 21.

The NPHO report noted that the patients that developed central nervous system (CNS) symptoms were all over 50 and the five cases were reported in Pieria, Xanthi, Kavala, Larisa and Karditsa.

More cases are likely to be diagnosed during the coming period, according to the NPHO partly as awareness grows among medical staff, noting that for every West Nile virus case that has CNS symptoms, there are approximately 140 cases of the virus with mild or no symptoms.

NPHO is advising the public to take steps to avoid exposure to ordinary mosquitos (mosquito repellent, mosquito nets, watering plants in the morning, not leaving standing water around residences etc), which are the main vectors for the disease.

The virus is usually passed to mosquitos from infected wild birds rather than infected humans and those most at risk of developing severe symptoms are people aged over 50, immunosuppressed patients and persons with chronic illnesses.