LivingTravelWest Nile virus in Greece

West Nile virus in Greece

West Nile Virus established itself in Greece and brings a few more cases each year, with dozens reported in 2013. In 2012, some West Nile Virus cases were confirmed, even outside of swampy areas, and seemed to cluster in suburbs outside of Athens. . For 2012, at least one death was reported, that of a 75-year-old man in July. In August 2010, there was a major outbreak of the West Nile virus in northern Greece, when at least 16 people became infected with the mosquito-borne disease. Some older victims in northern Greece died from the disease.

Although rare, it is worth taking basic precautions and using mosquito repellants.

The spread of West Nile disease in Greece and elsewhere

The West Nile virus has become increasingly widespread in recent years, affecting people and livestock in Europe, Asia, Africa and North America. Although it is called “West Nile” for where it was first isolated in Uganda, it has probably been present in many parts of the world for a long time. Birds are often the source of a West Nile infection, although mammals, especially horses, can also be affected.

How to avoid it

At this time, acquiring West Nile disease in Greece is an extremely rare occurrence. But it’s always a good idea to practice prevention wherever you are, and traveling in Greece is no exception.

  • It may be worth the weight and bulk of carrying one of the personal mosquito repellent units hung with a small fan; Friends in mosquito-infested areas have reported that mosquitoes are very effective and particularly good for children who are not always good at spraying themselves with repellent. More about West Nile Virus in children.
  • It’s also a good idea to avoid swampy areas where mosquitoes are likely to thrive. Dusk and evening will be the worst times, but in mosquito-infested areas, they can appear during the day.
  • Plug-in mosquito repellants are available in supermarkets, mini-marts and other stores in Greece, although they are not always prominently displayed. Most hotels and inns in mosquito-prone areas will have them on hand, but you may want to purchase and carry them. Remember to bring it with you when you go out.
  • Bring a small citronella candle. While these are available in Greece, it helps to have one of your own if you have the opportunity to sit outside on a panoramic balcony.
  • Yes, it is Greece in summer, but you should still wear a long-sleeved blouse or shirt. And don’t forget a sarong that can help quickly cover bare legs or arms if you find yourself in mosquito territory unexpectedly.

Is it West Nile fever?

Most people who get West Nile will have a moderate to high fever, flu-like symptoms, and, in about half of all cases, a skin rash. Most people get through West Nile relatively quickly, and children seem to be particularly resilient. Deaths and complications generally occur only in the elderly, but there are exceptions. Encephalitis is one of the main threats to West Nile, and is generally characterized by a stiff and painful neck in the early stages … so if you have persistent neck pain, you may not want to assume that you just grabbed your suitcase. wrong as this disease can be fatal.

Your local Greek pharmacy can be your first line for information and assistance; In Greece, pharmacists are well trained, usually in multiple languages, and can provide many drugs that would require a prescription in the United States and elsewhere. If no other medical care is available, a Greek pharmacy can be a good starting resource for the traveler. They will also be very aware of local cases of West Nile or other mosquito-borne diseases.

Could it be malaria?

In recent years, there have been some cases of apparently contracted malaria cases in Greece. Malaria used to be an endemic problem in Greece, particularly Crete, before modern eradication techniques were employed. Now, only a few cases are reported a year, and none have been confirmed in tourists.

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