Greek health authorities disclosed on Thursday that Greece has experienced the first deaths this year from the West Nile virus. The two victims of the virus were both over the age of 80.
The National Health Organization (EODY) did not say in which localities the deaths were recorded, but stated that the number of confirmed cases of the mosquito-borne infection this year has risen to 25.
The central nervous system of patients was affected in seventeen of those cases, which resulted in encephalitis and/or meningitis and paralysis.
The average age of patients suffering from the virus in Greece was 77.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO) the West Nile Virus is transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito, primarily belonging to the Culex genus. Infection can also occur through blood transfusions or organ/tissue/cellular transplants.
In addition to humans, West Nile Virus can also cause severe disease and death in horses and donkeys. Birds are the natural vectors, or reservoir hosts, of the virus.
Although 80 percent of infected people will show no symptoms at all, in 20 percent of cases the virus will develop into West Nile Fever – a febrile, influenza-like illness characterized by an abrupt onset of moderate to high fever.
This can also be accompanied by headaches, sore throats, muscle and joint pain, backaches, fatigue, nausea and diarrhea, according to the WHO.