The spread of the West Nile virus in Greece is reaching alarming levels, with the Center for Disease Prevention and Control (KEELPNO) reporting 107 cases that have resulted in 11 deaths so far this year.
In the last week alone, six people – all over 70 – have died, with 30 cases reported in just six days. According KEELPNO’s weekly report, released on Thursday, yet more virus infections are expected in the coming period.
“Further cases are expected to be diagnosed in the coming period and West Nile virus infections are likely to occur in other geographical areas,” it said. The higher levels of infections compared to the previous five years are indicative, critics say, of a lack of preparation on behalf of state authorities.
KEELPNO said there was an early onset of the virus in Europe in 2018, with the first cases of human infections in Greece reported in late May and early June.
On Wednesday, KEELPNO raised the number of municipalities affected by the virus since May 31 to 42. Cases have been reported in Attica – mainly in western parts, Piraeus and some in central Athens – parts of northern Greece, Viotia, Evia, Corinth and Rethymno in Crete.
Stressing that “public health is in danger,” Giorgos Patoulis, who is president of Greece’s Union of Municipalities and Communities (KEDE), called for a national action plan.
“The number of deaths has risen to 11, the virus has spread to 42 areas and of the 107 reported cases most are in Attica,” he said. He also referred to the concern expressed recently by the World Health Organization (WHO) over the rising the number of cases in Europe – with Greece coming third behind Serbia and Italy.
Patoulis went on to accuse the Attica Regional Authority of inefficiency. For its part, the authority announced on Thursday that fumigations will take place in northern Athens.
The infection is transmitted by mosquitoes, with symptoms including fever, headache, tiredness, body aches, nausea and vomiting, as well as skin rashes and swollen lymph glands.
According to KEELPNO, 88 of the 107 infected people suffered serious conditions related to the central nervous system – encephalitis and, or, meningitis – while in the other 19 cases they developed fevers. The age of those infected has ranged from 11 to 94.