Four people die of West Nile virus, 35 infected in Greece

Two more people died last week due to West Nile virus infection, increasing the number of deaths since the begin of mosquitoes season to four. According to the latest epidemiological report by the Greek National Public Health Organization (EHOD) published on Thursday, August 8th 2019, the number of West Nile infection rose to 35 from beginning of the mosquitoes season until today.

Of these 35 infection cases:

21 had central nervous system events (CNS, encephalitis and / or meningitis / and acute loose paralysis).

14 people had mild events (febrile illness) or no CNS events.

Currently, ten people are hospitalized, four of whom are in Intensive Care Units.

The age range of patients with CNS events ranged from 52 to 91 years, with an average age of 77 years.

There are four deaths in total. All patients were over 80 years old.

Most cases are located in the regional units of Larissa, Kavala, Xanthi and East Attica. Pieria, Pella and Karditsa.

As EODY notes, each case of West Nile virus infection with Central Nervous System infection accounts for approximately 140 people infected with mild symptoms or no symptoms at all.

The West Nile virus (WNV) is a single-stranded RNA virus that causes West Nile fever. The  West Nile virus is primarily transmitted by mosquitoes, mostly species of the genus Culex. The primary hosts of WNV are birds, so that the virus remains within a “bird–mosquito–bird” transmission cycle.

In humans, West Nile virus can cause a disease known as West Nile fever. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 80% of infected people have few or no symptoms, around 20% of people develop mild symptoms, such as fever, headache, vomiting, or a rash, while less than 1% of people develop severe symptoms, such as encephalitis or meningitis with associated neck stiffness, confusion, or seizures. The risk of death among those in whom the nervous system is affected is about 10%. Recovery may take weeks to months. Risks for severe disease include age over 60 and other health problems.

Diagnosis is typically based on symptoms and blood tests. While there is no specific treatment, pain medications may be useful.

Prevention

There is no human vaccine.

The best method to reduce the risk of infections is avoiding mosquito bites. This may be done by eliminating standing pools of water, such as in old tires, buckets, gutters, and swimming pools. Mosquito repellent, window screens, mosquito nets, and avoiding areas where mosquitoes occur may also be useful.

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