A 71-year-old man from the town of Almancil, Algarve Region, Portugal is the first laboratory confirmed human case of West Nile virus (WNV) in the country, according a World Health Organization (WHO) report last week.
The patient was hospitalized with neurological symptoms in mid-July, fully recovered and was discharged on August 4. He had no travel history outside the country.
WHO states though the presence of WNV is known in Portugal, where three previous probable human cases were reported (two in 2004 and one in 2010), this is the first laboratory-confirmed human case that fully meets the European Union case definition for WNV.
On 3 September, Portuguese national authorities informed the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) of three foci of WNV infection in equines in the municipalities of Faro and Loulé – Algarve region.
The Portuguese government started several preventive measures including blood product safety measures, mosquito control and a national notification to the public.
West Nile virus is a member of the flavivirus genus and belongs to the Japanese encephalitis antigenic complex of the family Flaviviridae. The virus is commonly found in Africa, Europe, the Middle East, North America and West Asia. WNV is mainly transmitted to people through the bites of infected mosquitoes. Humans, horses and other mammals can all be infected. Infection with the virus can cause neurological disease and death in people. Vaccines are available for use in horses but not yet available for people.
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