HOLIDAYMAKERS heading to Italy this summer have been warned of an outbreak of a deadly disease carried by mosquitoes.
Health officials have confirmed almost 90 cases of West Nile virus across several European countries as of August 9, 2023.
Figures from the European Centre for Disease Control (ECDC) suggest the majority of cases have come from Italy – where there has been 56 infections and one death reported this year.
The weekly report found cases of the bug in Europe almost doubled – from 48 to 89 -between August 3 to August 9, suggesting the virus is spreading fast.
Greece follows behind Italy with 22 cases this year and two deaths, local health authorities reported last week.
West Nile virus is a potentially paralysing or fatal condition that can cause neurological disease in humans, such as such as encephalitis and meningitis.
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Both involve inflammation of the brain and are often deadly.
Romania has reported five cases while France and Hungary have both logged three.
More than 1,300 locally acquired human cases of West Nile virus infection, including 104 deaths in 2022, were recorded, according to the ECDC.
They were the highest reported number of locally acquired cases since the peak epidemic year of 2018 – for which there were over 1,500.
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Mozzies responsible for spreading several other tropical diseases have reached some European countries for the first time.
Scientists say climate change, which brings with it frequent heatwaves and flooding, has created more favourable conditions for the critters.
The report by ECDC revealed the bugs are now established in 26 European countries – bringing diseases such as West Nile and dengue with them.
This means the little pests now have a foothold in popular holiday destinations like Spain, France and Portugal.
Brits heading to 'high risk' destinations should avoid mosquito bites by using insect sprays and mosquito nets, the NHS says.
What are the symptoms of West Nile virus?
MOST people with the virus have no symptoms.
But if you do, chances are you'll develop mild flu-like symptoms, a skin rash and may feel sick.
The infection usually goes away on its own without treatment.
Signs of a severe infection can include flu-like symptoms and also:
- muscle weakness
- fits (seizures)
Severe infections need to get treated at hospital.
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