ATHENS – Already dealing with a measles outbreak, Greek health authorities now have a soaring number of West Nile virus cases spread by mosquitoes, some 107 that have resulted in 11 deaths this year, the Center for Disease Prevention and Control (KEELPNO) said.
Six of those died in the week leading up to Aug. 23, with all the victims over 70 years old, a period during which 30 cases were reported, said Kathimerini.
According to KEELPNO’s weekly report, 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 the first cases of human infections in Greece were reported in late May and early June but only recently began to spike and that 42 municipalities have been affected, including in the western and central areas of Athens and Piraeus as well as in northern Greece in Viotia, Evia, Corinth and on Crete in Rethymno.
Giorgos Patoulis, President of Greece’s Union of Municipalities and Communities (KEDE), called for a national action plan and said “public health is in danger” now.
“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 with Greece third in Europe in the number of cases behind Serbia and Italy and with concerns from the World Health Organization (WHO).
Patoulis said the Attica Regional Authority hasn't acted fast enough and the fumigations were only now taking place in northern Athens.
The infection shows 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.