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West Nile virus transmission in Europe

03 Sep 2010

Epidemiological update, 3 September 2010

In addition to the outbreak of West Nile virus infection in Greece, several other European Member States, as well as some neighbouring countries, are reporting West Nile virus transmission. Below a short update and a map are provided on the current reported circulation of the virus in the region. Read the ECDC threat assessment as of 27 August.

In Greece, the outbreak is largely limited to the Region of Central Macedonia, with only a few cases in the neighbouring district of Larissa. As of 3 September 2010, a total of 173 cases have been reported, all of whom are laboratory confirmed; 15 persons have died. The first case was reported beginning of August. More information on the presentation of the cases and the response to the outbreak by the Greek authorities is available from the recent Eurosurveillance article, as well as the previous epidemiological update.

The Romanian health authorities have reported a total of thirteen confirmed and two probable cases of West Nile virus infection in the past two months. Two infected persons have died, both above 75 years old. Cases have a median age of 50 years (range 18 – 79 years), and are spread over eleven different districts in the country. Enhanced surveillance is implemented country-wide, from the human as well as from the animal perspective.

Three confirmed cases have been reported by the Hungarian health authorities on 2 of September, one of whom lives close to the Romanian border in the county of Bekes, while the other two cases were detected in the Central Hungarian Region. Epidemiological investigations are ongoing, and enhanced surveillance has been implemented.  

Finally, one confirmed case of West Nile virus infection was reported from the Veneto region, in Italy, in the frame of an enhanced surveillance system for summer fevers during the month of August, and one probable case from Portugal in July.

Outside of the EU, during July and August 2010, a total of 231 cases of West Nile fever have been reported in Russia, among them 6 lethal cases (5 from Volgograd oblast and 1 from Rostov oblast). The great majority of cases are reported from Volgograd, but in the last days, 35 cases have been reported from Rostov. In addition, sporadic cases have been reported during the summer from the Astrakhan and Voronezh oblasts, Krasnodar kray and the Republic of Kalmykia.

On 10 August, 24 confirmed cases of West Nile infection were reported from Israel, in addition to 6 presumed cases. There is also a recent report of an imported case of WNV infection from Israel to the Netherlands.  Most of the cases are from the Central and Tel Aviv region, while isolated cases are reported from the Haifa region. In Morocco, while no human cases have been reported up to now, West Nile virus infection was confirmed in 18 horses, including eight fatal cases, as of 24 August. The majority of these are reported from the northern part of the country.

European perspective

West Nile virus transmission is ongoing in several EU Member States, as well as in other countries in the region. New areas of the virus’ transmission with the occurrence of human cases have been identified. Personal protective measures against mosquito bites need to be considered by residents or persons visiting these areas in the coming months.

WNV confirmed cases, 1 July - 2 September 2010, Europe and Mediterranean area

Daily updates on the outbreak are published by the Greek health authorities: http://www.keelpno.gr/eng/wnv/

More information on West Nile virus infection is available from the ECDC factsheet.

According to the EU case definition of West Nile virus infection: http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:2008:159:0046:0090:EN:PDF

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