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West Nile Virus: Dangerous pathogen spread on the Adriatic
Years ago, experts warned of the spread of the West Nile virus in Europe. The pathogen is currently more widespread in northeastern Italy. A man is said to have died of it. Health experts therefore point out the importance of protecting against mosquitoes.
Dangerous pathogen found
A few months ago, when the World Health Organization (WHO) published a list of diseases and pathogens that "pose a risk to public health and for which there are no or inadequate countermeasures", the website also indicated diseases that " remain major public health problems ”and need further research. One of these diseases is West Nile fever caused by the West Nile virus. This pathogen is currently common in some regions of Italy.
Outbreak is not brought under control
Some regions in north-east Italy are currently battling the West Nile virus. According to media reports, 20 people have already been infected with the dangerous pathogen this year.
A 77-year-old man is believed to have died from an infection with the virus.
Local authorities appear to have difficulty getting the outbreak under control.
The pathogen is transmitted to birds, horses and humans via infected mosquitoes.
Programs to combat mosquitoes have already started in three regions of Veneto, but those blood-sucking insects that carry the virus are still found there.
Infection can be particularly dangerous for the elderly
According to health experts, most people do not notice infections with the virus, which was first described in 1937.
On average, one in five infected people develop flu-like symptoms. This can include fever, fatigue, vomiting, headache and muscle pain. Lymph node swellings sometimes appear later.
As the CRM Center for Travel Medicine explains on its website, about a third of those affected “develop a rash on the chest, back and arms that later heals without scaling”.
Inflammation of the brain or meninges can also occur.
"The disease can be fatal, especially in older people," write the experts.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), an average of one in 150 infected people experience serious complications that can lead to death.
Protect against mosquitoes
Health experts recommend preventive mosquito protection in affected regions.
In addition to special mosquito sprays, there are other options that can help against annoying mosquitoes.
So you can keep insects away from mosquito nets at home or in the tent and protect yourself from bites outdoors with bright, skin-covering clothing.
According to various studies, the bloodsuckers are attracted to bad odors such as sweat or smelly socks. So this should be avoided.
As a home remedy for mosquitoes, smells like garlic or cabbage are among the options.
The virus could also make the jump to Germany
The virus has appeared repeatedly in Eastern and Southern Europe for several years. So far, 37 West Nile cases from EU countries have been reported to the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).
However, experts point out that the virus can multiply very quickly in the mosquitoes due to the current heat. This could accelerate the spread.
In the future, the pathogen could also make the jump over the Alps. Experts are very concerned about the persistently high temperatures in this country. (ad)