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Highest number of West Nile virus infections recorded in Europe: ECDC

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Author : Indo Asian News Service

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Stockholm/Rome, June 23 (IANS) More than 1,300 locally acquired human cases of West Nile virus infection, including 104 deaths in 2022 had been reported in Europe, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) said.

They were the highest reported number of locally acquired cases since the peak epidemic year of 2018, and the cases were found in the EU, European Economic Area (EEA), and EU-neighbouring countries, according to the ECDC.

More than 1,100 of the locally acquired human cases were reported by 10 countries in the EU/EEA, the ECDC said on Thursday in a press statement.

The vast majority were reported by Italy and Greece, 723 and 283 respectively, and the number of cases in Italy in 2022 was the highest on record, the ECDC added.

Heat waves, flooding, and drought in Europe have created the habitat required by the Aedes Albopictus mosquito, which can spread dengue fever, malaria, and the Chikungunya virus. It also carries the West Nile virus, yellow fever, and the Zika virus, Xinhua news agency reported.

The mosquito is mostly spreading north and into higher altitudes, whereas its traditional territory is in humid parts of the Mediterranean area. Other disease-carrying mosquito species are also spreading, the ECDC said.

According to media reports, mosquito-borne diseases are being recorded as far north as Denmark and Sweden.

"In recent years we have seen a geographical spread of invasive mosquito species to previously unaffected areas in Europe," said Andrea Ammon, director of the ECDC.

"If this continues, we can expect to see more cases and possibly deaths from diseases such as Dengue, Chikungunya, and West Nile Virus," Ammon said, adding that efforts need to focus on ways to control mosquito population, enhancing surveillance and enforcing personal protective measures.



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