West Nile virus cases increase in Greece, 41 death

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According to the latest statistics from the Greek Center for Disease Control and Prevention, as of the 18th local time, the number of patients infected with West Nile virus in Greece increased to 306, with 41 deaths.

Since October, a total of 17 people have been infected with West Nile virus in Greece, 14 of whom have central nervous system diseases, and 6 more have died of West Nile virus infection last week.

Travelers to Greece may take action to prevent yourself and your family from mosquito bites, which is the most effective way to prevent infection from ­­­West Nile virus.

Use Insect Repellent

Use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellents with one of the active ingredients below. When used as directed, EPA-registered insect repellents are proven safe and effective, even for pregnant and breastfeeding women.

  • DEET
  • Picaridin (known as KBR 3023 and icaridin outside the US)
  • IR3535
  • Oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE)
  • Para-menthane-diol (PMD)
  • 2-undecanone

Natural insect repellents aren’t confirmed as effective as EPA-registered repellents, for your safety, please use EPA-registered repellents. 

Tips for babies and children

an adult male applying insect repellent to a child's face

  • Always follow instructions when applying insect repellent to children.
  • Do not use insect repellent on babies younger than 2 months old.
    • Instead, dress your child in clothing that covers arms and legs.
    • Cover strollers and baby carriers with mosquito netting.
  • Do not use products containing oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE) or para-menthane-diol (PMD) on children under 3 years old.
  • Do not apply insect repellent to a child’s hands, eyes, mouth, cuts, or irritated skin.
    • Adults: Spray insect repellent onto your hands and then apply to a child’s face.

Tips for Everyone

  • Always follow the product label instructions.
  • Reapply insect repellent as directed.
    • Do not spray repellent on the skin under clothing.
    • If you are also using sunscreen, apply sunscreen first and insect repellent second.

Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants

Treat clothing and gear

  • Use permethrin to treat clothing and gear (such as boots, pants, socks, and tents) or buy permethrin-treated clothing and gear.
    • Permethrin is an insecticide that kills or repels mosquitoes.
    • Permethrin-treated clothing provides protection after multiple washings.
    • Read product information to find out how long the protection will last.

    If treating items yourself, follow the product instructions.

  • Do not use permethrin products directly on skin.
a mosquito protected house

Take steps to control mosquitoes indoors and outdoors

  • Use screens on windows and doors. Repair holes in screens to keep mosquitoes outdoors.
  • Use air conditioning, if available.
  • Stop mosquitoes from laying eggs in or near water.
    • Once a week, empty and scrub, turn over, cover, or throw out items that hold water, such as tires, buckets, planters, toys, pools, birdbaths, flowerpots, or trash containers.
    • Check indoors and outdoors.
Clipart image of a bed with a mosquito net over it.

Prevent mosquito bites when traveling overseas

  • Choose a hotel or lodging with air conditioning or screens on windows and doors.
  • Sleep under a mosquito bed net if you are outside or in a room that does not have screens.
    • Buy a bed net at your local outdoor store or online before traveling overseas.
    • Choose a WHOPES-approved bed net: compact, white, rectangular, with 156 holes per square inch, and long enough to tuck under the mattress.
    • Permethrin-treated bed nets provide more protection than untreated nets.
      • Do not wash bed nets or expose them to sunlight. This will break down the insecticide more quickly.

Symptoms of West Nile virus infection

Most people  (8 out of 10) infected with West Nile virus do not develop any symptoms.

About 1 in 5 people who are infected develop a fever with other symptoms such as headache, body aches, joint pains, vomiting, diarrhea, or rash. Most people with this type of West Nile virus disease recover completely, but fatigue and weakness can last for weeks or months.

About 1 in 150 people who are infected develop a severe illness affecting the central nervous system such as encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) or meningitis (inflammation of the membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord).

  • Symptoms of severe illness include high fever, headache, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, vision loss, numbness and paralysis.
  • Severe illness can occur in people of any age; however, people over 60 years of age are at greater risk. People with certain medical conditions, such as cancer, diabetes, hypertension, kidney disease, and people who have received organ transplants, are also at greater risk.
  • Recovery from severe illness might take several weeks or months. Some effects to the central nervous system might be permanent.
  • About 1 out of 10  people who develop severe illness affecting the central nervous system die.

See your healthcare provider if you develop the symptoms described above.

No vaccine or specific antiviral treatments for West Nile virus infection are available.

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