The West Nile virus spreads in Europe. Especially affected are regions in the southeast of the continent. Sickness cases have already been discovered in Greece, France, Hungary, Romania and Italy. Leader with the most infections is our neighbor south of the Alps. The European Center for Disease Prevention and Control speaks of 231 reported diseases and 17 deaths in Europe (from 9 August).
Especially birds affected
The virus is mainly found in birds. However, mammals, humans and amphibians can also be infected with the treacherous disease. The infection usually occurs through mosquitoes. This also happens in Switzerland. However, it has not yet been proven that they are carriers of the West Nile virus in this country.
People can not catch themselves directly on sick animals or people. However, there have been cases in the US where the virus has been transferred from the mother to the child via blood transfusions, organ donation or pregnancies.
Blood donations are not permitted
Ticino is also aware of the danger from the south. There, 140 people were not allowed to donate blood recently because they had been in northeastern Italy before.
This year, the West Nile virus is spreading around popular bathing areas in the north of the country on the Adriatic Sea.
No therapy and no vaccination
In about three-quarters of cases, the infection is without symptoms. However, flu-like symptoms with high fever can occur in about 25 percent after two to fourteen days after the fight. After a few days to weeks, the disease usually heals itself again. In very rare cases, serious complications such as brain or meningitis can occur. In about 0.1 percent of those affected, such complications can lead to death.
So far, there is no vaccine or specific therapy for the West Nile virus. This can in fact only be prevented by consistently protecting against mosquitoes, for example with clothing with long sleeves or mosquito repellent.
The West Nile virus is a notifiable disease in Switzerland, so the authorities can act quickly if it spreads.