The first two cases of laboratory-confirmed infection with the Western Nile virus in 2019 have been diagnosed in Greece, the National Organisation for Public Health announced. One case was recorded in Pieria and the other in Xanthi.
According to the announcement issued on Saturday, the new cases show that the virus has established itself in Greece, as in other European countries, and more cases are likely to occur in 2019 during the mosquito season, in locations that are hard to predict.
The disease is mainly spread by common mosquitos that bite infected birds, especially certain wild species, but is not considered to spread from infected humans. Most people infected will have very mild or even no symptoms, while fewer than 1 pct of those bitten will become seriously ill, with complaints such as encephalitis, meningitis or paralysis.
Older age groups (over 50) are most at risk of becoming seriously ill, as are people with depressed immune systems and chronic illnesses.
The public, especially those falling in the above categories, are advised to minimise their exposure to mosquitos as far as possible by use of approved insect repellents for the body and living areas, air-conditioning and fans, clothing, mosquito nets and screens for windows and doors. It is also advisable to avoid leaving standing water around buildings and gardens where mosquitos can incubate, emptying any objects that collect water at least once a week and placing netting over the ventilation shafts of septic tanks.