Greece first cases of West Nile Virus Identified in 2019

The health authorities have been alerted since the first two incidents have been recorded by the National Public Health Organization (EODY) (former HCDCP).

Scientists are commenting, the West Nile virus is now “established” in Europe and new cases of infections will occur each year.

In particular, the first two laboratory confirmed cases of West Nile virus infection for the 2019 transmission period were diagnosed in Greece, based on information from the National Public Health Organization (EEDY), one in the Regional Unity of Piraeus (Municipality of Katerini) and the other in the EE. Xanthi (Municipality of Topeiros).

Outbreaks of West Nile virus infection in humans and animals were recorded in the years 2010-2014 and 2017-2018, in various regions of our country, in almost all the Regions. This suggests that the West Nile virus has been established in our country, as in other European countries. “Therefore, the recurrence of incidents in our country during the current period of 2019, during the mosquito’s circulation, both in known and new areas, was considered possible and expected“, noted the specialists of EEDY.

Indeed, the body had already informed (in May 2019) health professionals all over Greece about the need to alert them to the early diagnosis of incidents.

Note that the West Nile virus is transmitted mainly by stinging infected “common” mosquitoes. Mosquitoes are infected when they bite infected birds, which are the primary reservoir of the virus in nature. People who are infected are considered not to further transmit the virus to other mosquitoes.

In most cases, people infected with the virus do not get ill or have mild symptoms, with very few people (less than 1%) having severe disease affecting the nervous system (encephalitis, meningitis or paralysis). Older people (over 50 years of age) are more at risk of seriously ill, as well as people with immunosuppression and chronic underlying diseases.

As the epidemiology of the virus is determined by many factors, the areas that (possibly) will be released can not be predicted safely. Hence, the EDA recommends that you keep individual mosquito protection measures throughout the territory throughout the mosquito cycle. Older people and people with chronic underlying illness must take their measures with considerable consistency.

In order to protect your mosquitoes, the EDA recommends:

  • Use approved body and environmental insect repellents (according to the instructions for use), screens, mosquito nets, air conditioners / fans, appropriate (long) clothing.
  • Do not leave stagnant water anywhere, inside and outside your home, on the balconies, in the courtyard, in the field (thus, you are actually helping local authorities in mosquito control). Turn up, cover, or empty water regularly (at least every week) of all water picking items. Cover the ventilation ducts of the sheds with a sieve.

The EMCDDA conducts enhanced epidemiological surveillance of the disease, investigates the incidents immediately, and is in constant communication and cooperation with the relevant national, regional and local authorities with a view to the timely implementation of targeted response and prevention measures.

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