The Athens Medical Association on Monday expressed its concern over incidents of infection with the Western Nile virus and recommended that members of the public take measures to protect themselves from mosquito bites.
"Over the last year, 316 cases of West Nile virus were recorded, of which 50 led to death, and most of which were recorded in the Attica Act.
"Criminal omissions in epidemiological surveillance of the West Nile virus in recent years, and especially the timely implementation of appropriate mosquito control programmes, have resulted in the virus becoming established in our country. As it is expected that there will be an increase in incidents in the next period, it is important that health authorities are on alert and that citizens carefully adopt personal protection measures. We believe that the new political leadership of the Ministry of Health will demonstrate readiness and effectiveness in the protection of public health", said Giorgos Patoulis, president of the Athens Medical Association.
The Athens Medical Association suggested the following personal protection measures, including:
- Use of insect repellent in living spaces and on uncovered skin and clothes.
- Installation of net screens on doors and windows of houses.
- Use of mosquito nets, insecticides, fans and air conditioners, as well as yellow light bulbs.
- Removal of stagnant water from basins, jars, pots, gutters, and anywhere that water collects in the home and garden.
- Lawn, shrub and foliage trimming.
- Watering plants only in the morning.
- Covering the body with appropriate protective clothing.
The first two cases of laboratory-confirmed infection with the Western Nile virus in 2019 diagnosed in Greece were announced on Saturday by the National Organisation for Public Health, which said that the virus has established itself in Greece and more cases were likely to occur in 2019.
The disease is mainly spread by common mosquitos that bite infected birds 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 serious illness, as are people with depressed immune systems and chronic illnesses.