Greece’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention (KEELPNO) confirmed the first incident of West Nile Virus, August 13.
Test results showed that an 85-year-old Attiki resident was infected by the disease. The elderly, who is now hospitalized, said that he did not travel recently to any other parts of Greece.
KEELPNO has already requested local authorities across Greece to be alert for more possible West Nile virus infections during the summer. They also requested mosquito-control measures according to the epidemiological data for the 2010-2013 period, as well as on international scientific publications on the subject.
KEELPNO said “the West Nile virus steadily re-appears in the summer months of the last five years, with human infections recorded in various areas of Greece.”
The virus is transmitted through an ordinary mosquito bite and in the majority of infections patients either remain fully asymptomatic or express mild symptoms. Elderly people, as well as people with chronic diseases, face the most danger when infected.
West Nile virus is a mosquito-borne zoonotic arbovirus belonging to the genus Flavivirus, usually found in tropical regions of the world. The virus was first identified in the West Nile subregion in the East African nation of Uganda in 1937. Prior to the mid-1990s, the West Nile Virus disease occurred only sporadically and was considered a minor risk for humans, until an outbreak in Algeria in 1994, with cases of WNV-caused encephalitis, and the first large outbreak in Romania in 1996, with a high number of cases with neuro-invasive disease. It has now spread globally, with the first case in the Western Hemisphere being identified in New York City in 1999. For the next 5 years, the virus spread across the continental United States, north into Canada, and southward into the Caribbean islands and Latin America.
The virus has also spread to Europe, beyond the Mediterranean Basin, and a new strain of the virus was identified in Italy in 2012. It is now considered to be an endemic pathogen in Africa, Asia, Australia, the Middle East, Europe and in the United States, which in 2012 has experienced one of its worst epidemics. In 2012, WNV killed 286 people in the United States, with the state of Texas hit the most by the disease.