Five cases of infection with the West Nile virus have been diagnosed so far this year in Greece, up to and including July 18, the country’s National Public Health Organization announced in its weekly report on Thursday.
Three cases involved symptoms involving the central nervous system (encephalitis or meningitis) and two others had milder symptoms of fever. No deaths linked to the virus have been reported so far, while the first confirmed case was on June 21.
The five cases were reported in Pieria, Xanthi, Kavala, Larisa and Karditsa, and all the patients who developed central nervous system (CNS) symptoms were all individuals aged over 50.
The NPHO said that additional cases are likely to be diagnosed during the coming period, partly as awareness grows among medical staff, noting that for every West Nile virus case which has CNS symptoms, there are approximately 140 cases of the virus with mild or no symptoms whatsoever.
The NPHO is advising the public to take steps to avoid exposure to ordinary mosquitoes (using mosquito repellent, mosquito nets, watering plants in the morning, not leaving standing water around residences, etc.), which are the main vectors for the disease.
The virus is usually passed to mosquitoes from infected wild birds rather than infected humans. Those most at risk of developing severe symptoms are people aged over 50, as well as immunosuppressed patients and those suffering from chronic illnesses.