Wednesday, 21 August, 2019

Greece holidayers warned of rise in mosquito carrying West Nile virus

The Mediterranean country has seen a rise in the number of cases of the West Nile Virus. Credit PA The Mediterranean country has seen a rise in the number of cases of the West Nile Virus. Credit PA
Gustavo Carr | 20 June, 2019, 05:57

"The vaccine to prevent West Nile Virus in horses is highly effective and should be administered at least three weeks prior to exposure to mosquitoes carrying WNV", said Hughes.

"There have been enough cases to know that this is now a public health issue", Danai Pervanidou, who heads the office for vector-borne diseases at the national organisation for public health (Keelpno), told The Guardian. The department said West Nile virus is contracted from the bite of an infected mosquito and is not spread from person-to-person through casual contact.

This year, mosquito bites were added to the usual tourist warnings about out of control fires and strikes in Greece.

The city Health Department regularly monitors mosquitoes that carry the West Nile virus.

Birds are the main carrier of the virus but mosquitoes are the most common way infection is transmitted among humans.

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare issued a news release Wednesday morning.

Thirty people citywide suffered from neuroinvasive effects a year ago, with six in Brooklyn, according to the Health Department.

Around 20 percent of those infected will suffer flu-like symptoms, while one in 150 will have a more severe reaction, such as meningitis and even seizures.

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But among those diagnosed in Greece previous year, 243 displayed symptoms of neuro-invasive disease such as encephalitis, meningitis and acute paralysis.

Tourism makes up a quarter of the country's gross domestic product and numbers of visitors topped 30 million past year.

Information leaflets are also being distributed to airports and municipal and regional authorities nationwide.

"It is impossible to predict the area of virus circulation because of its complex epidemiology but what we do know is that it has moved from villages and wetlands in rural areas to big urban centres, including the Attica region [around Athens] and Thessaloniki", Pervanidou told the Guardian.

"This is the time of year we expect West Nile virus-positive mosquitos to be found in Idaho", says Dr. Christine Hahn, Division of Public Health Medical Director. "We have to be prepared".

Italy, Cyprus, Romania and Serbia have also seen an increase in the disease.

Government health officials have warned tourists visiting Greece to take precautions after a spike in the number of West Nile virus cases there.