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Greece Confirms 123 Cases and 11 Deaths Related to the West Nile Virus

West Nile Virus Greece
74 people in Greece displayed symptoms affecting their central nervous system  Credit: JJ Harrison,  Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0/Wikipedia

On Tuesday, health authorities in Greece announced 123 confirmed cases of the West Nile virus and 11 virus-related deaths in the period from January 1, 2022 to August 30, 2022.

This is a significant increase compared to 2021 when fifty-nine cases and eight deaths were recorded in the same period.

According to official data from the National Organization for Public Health (EODY), of the 123 cases, seventy-four displayed symptoms affecting their central nervous system (encephalitis, meningitis, and others) while forty-nine had mild symptoms or no symptoms.

According to the EODY report, over the last week, there were thirty-six new confirmed reported cases of the virus.

The cases were identified in areas of wider metropolitan Thessaloniki, Imathia, Kilkis, Pella, Pieria, Halkidiki, Serres, Trikala, and Larissa.

Infected mosquitos transmit the West Nile Virus

The West Nile Virus (WNV) is a mosquito-borne infectious disease transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito.

Human WNV infection has been described in Europe since 1950. An increased number of outbreaks have been observed over the last twenty years.

The World Health Organization says that while eighty percent of those infected with WNV show no symptoms, in twenty percent of cases, the virus will develop into West Nile Fever (WNF), a febrile, influenza-like illness with symptoms similar to those of dengue.

In addition, mortality is usually rare, occurring mainly in elderly patients, and recovery is complete. There is no specific treatment for WNF other than relieving the symptoms. Currently, there is no human vaccine against WNV, and prevention of the illness in humans is based on mosquito control.

As of August 24, 2022, European Union (EU) and European Economic Area (EEA) countries reported 101 human cases of West Nile Virus infection and four deaths related to WNV infections.

Cases were reported by Italy (70), Greece (24), Romania (6), and Germany (1). Deaths were reported by Greece (2), Italy (1), and Romania (1). EU-neighboring countries reported twenty-eight human cases of WNV infection in Serbia and three deaths related to WNV infections in Serbia.

In the US, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has announced that as of August 23, 2022, a total of ninety-eight cases of West Nile Virus disease in people have been reported.

Of these, sixty-six (67 percent) were classified as neuroinvasive diseases (such as meningitis or encephalitis) and thirty-two (33 percent) were classified as non-neuroinvasive diseases.

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