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West Nile virus: first cases in Europe in 2012

13 Jul 2012
West Nile virus infection in the EU, ECDC rapid risk assessment

The first human cases of West Nile fever of 2012 have been reported for the EU and its neighbourhood over the past week. One confirmed and one probable case have been reported in Greece by the Hellenic Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (KEELPNO) in the past week. Health authorities in the Russian Federation reported 5 cases of West Nile fever in Astrakhan Oblast.

The fact that the transmission in the Greek cases occurred early in the season and that, for the first time, the cases were reported from neighbourhoods in Athens – Palaio Faliro and Argyroupoli, indicate the need for a focussed public health response. Given these factors, ECDC has updated its rapid risk assessment from September 2011. If local transmission becomes sufficiently established in Athens, more cases are to be expected in Athens in addition to elsewhere in Greece for the remainder of the season.

The early detection of the West Nile virus (WNV) in the season (onset of disease 28 June 2012) could be a result of the enhanced level of surveillance in Greece following the strengthening of awareness among healthcare workers for the clinical presentation of West Nile virus infection and strengthened laboratory diagnostic capacity.

In 2011, 130 probable and confirmed autochthonous cases of WNV infection were reported in the EU, including 69 confirmed and 31 probable cases from Greece, and 207 in neighbouring countries.
Every Friday ECDC publishes on its website the West Nile fever maps, the information being based on cases reported up to the Thursday of each week.

With the West Nile fever maps, ECDC aims to inform the competent authorities responsible for blood safety of areas with ongoing transmission of West Nile virus to humans in order to support their implementation of blood safety legislation.

Read the full rapid risk assessment: Risk assessment: Epidemiological situation of West Nile virus infection in the European Union - Update, 13 July 2012

Read more:

Understanding the maps
Historical data for West Nile fever
EU case definition for West Nile fever
Epidemiological update: End of West Nile virus transmission season in Europe
ECDC factsheet on West Nile
Emerging and Vector-borne Diseases Programme

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