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What is the West Nile Virus that Has Highly Affected Greece this Year?

West Nile fever is a mosquito-borne disease, like chikungunya, malaria or dengue, which starts in the summer and continues through fall, reported Xihuanet.

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Updated:September 14, 2019, 11:38 AM IST
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What is the West Nile Virus that Has Highly Affected Greece this Year?
A vector control team vehicle displays a sign warning of West Nile Virus. (Image: Representational/REUTERS/File)

According to the weekly epidemiological surveillance report of the National Public Health Organization (EODY) of Greece, twenty people over the age of 60 have been the victims of the West Nile virus in the country so far this year. West Nile fever is a mosquito-borne disease, like chikungunya, malaria or dengue, which starts in the summer and continues through fall, reported Xihuanet

West Nile virus (WNV) is a single-stranded RNA virus that causes West Nile fever. It is a member of the family Flaviviridae, specifically from the genus Flavivirus, which also contains the Zika virus, dengue virus, and yellow fever virus. West Nile virus is primarily transmitted by mosquitoes, mostly species of Culex. The primary hosts of WNV are birds, so that the virus remains within a "bird–mosquito–bird" transmission cycle. There are no vaccines to prevent or medications to treat WNV in people.

Xihuanet further quoted the report saying that in total, from the beginning of 2019 until Sept. 12, 176 cases of West Nile virus infection have been diagnosed and investigated across many regions of Greece.

109 of the patients were reported to have affected Central Nervous System (encephalitis and/or meningitis) due to the virus, whereas 67 of them developed mild symptoms, such as fever. Most people face mild symptoms, but some, especially those belonging in high-risk groups like the elderly, end up hospitalized with more serious conditions.

"The diagnosis of further outbreaks in the coming period and the occurrence of outbreaks in other geographical areas are also likely and expected," said EODY.

The organization also noted that as the epidemiology of the virus is determined by many factors, its circulation sites and potential outbreak sites in each transmission period cannot be reliably predicted. Therefore, EODY recommended that individual protection measures be observed in all the territory, throughout the period of mosquitoes' circulation.

There are no vaccines to prevent or medications to treat WNV in people. The implementation of appropriate mosquito control programs and individual mosquito protection measures are the most appropriate measures to control the disease.

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