During the past week, European health officials reported 50 additional human West Nile virus (WNV) infections. The cases were reported from Greece (22), Romania (19), Hungary (7), Bulgaria (1) and the Czech Republic (1). EU neighbouring countries reported 30 cases, all in Serbia.

Image/Robert Herriman
Image/Robert Herriman

18 fatalities were reported by Greece (8), Romania (6), Serbia (3) and the Czech Republic (1).

The total human WNV cases reported year to date in Europe is 1,317 with Italy (495), Greece (283) and Romania (256) reporting the most. Cases so far exceed the total number in previous five years, according to health authorities.

WNV is a potentially serious disease carried by mosquitoes. People get WNV after being bitten by an infected mosquito or handling a bird that died from the virus.

Most people don’t show any symptoms of WNV. Around 20 percent of people will develop flu-like symptoms, including:

  • Fever
  • Head and body aches
  • Joint pains
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Rash

About one percent of people with WNV develop severe neurologic effects, which are sometimes permanent or fatal. Symptoms of severe WNV include:

  • High fever
  • Neck stiffness
  • Disorientation
  • Coma
  • Tremors
  • Seizures
  • Paralysis

There is no specific treatment for WNV. Most people recover completely, although fatigue and weakness can last for weeks or months.