West Nile virus kills 17 in Greece

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By Mark Armstrong
West Nile virus kills 17 in Greece

Seventeen people have died from the West Nile virus in Greece after being bitten by mosquitos, according to the country's Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. 

Symptoms include fever, headaches, tiredness, body aches, nausea and vomiting. The Athens Medical Association has called on the Health Ministry to implement a plan to deal with the spread of the virus. 

Some 130 incidents have been reported from around the country, mainly in Attica and Central Macedonia, but in other parts of Europe too.

"This year we had more cases occurring much earlier compared to previous years, and that is a phenomenon happening in other European countries too," explained Dr. Danae Pervanidou from the centre. 

"We had an early start and a high rise in cases. There was a big epidemic in Romania in 1996 and ever since we have cases in European countries. The last 10 years almost every summer there are cases in central and southern Europe, there is an increase."

Around 80% of people who contract the virus will show no symptoms; a fifth will develop a viral infection; and 1% will develop encephalitis or meningitis. 

"It came to Europe through birds," said Dr. Pervanidou. "The main carriers of the virus are birds, contaminated birds arriving from Africa."

Experts are recommending that people take appropriate measures to protect themselves.