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Further spread of the West Nile virus feared in Germany

Further spread of the West Nile virus feared in Germany



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West Nile Virus is spreading more and more in Germany

The West Nile virus has been repeatedly detected in Germany in recent years, with mosquitoes being the main carrier. In a current epidemiological bulletin, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) now points out that a further spread of the West Nile virus transmitted by mosquitoes can be assumed in Germany. Apparently the virus can also hibernate in Germany, reports the RKI.

For the first time in Germany, mosquito-borne West Nile Virus (WNV) infection was clearly demonstrated last year. A total of five West Nile virus infections were diagnosed by the end of the year, which were probably due to mosquito transmission, reports the Deutsche Ärzteblatt, citing the figures from the RKI. Apparently, the West Nile virus is also able to hibernate in Germany.

Mosquitoes are the main carriers

The previously reported infections with the West Nile virus were limited to the federal states of Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt and Berlin, but an increased spread of the virus is expected in the coming years. Because the pathogen originally from Africa is transmitted in this country primarily by the widespread mosquitoes of the genus Culex, whose population is strengthened by longer summers and mild winters. A possible risk area could therefore also be the heat-favored regions on the Upper Rhine, where there are increasing mosquito pests.

The West Nile virus is transmitted by mosquitoes primarily between birds, but mammals (such as horses) and humans can also be infected by mosquito bites. Fortunately, most infections (around 80 percent) do not have any symptoms in humans and the rest of those affected usually only have mild, non-specific symptoms such as fever or rash.

What are the symptoms of the West Nile Virus?

However, a very small proportion of those infected (less than one percent) experience serious complications in the form of meningitis (meningitis) or inflammation of the brain (encephalitis), which can be fatal in the worst case. In addition, the treatment options are very limited, as there are no efficient drug therapies available to date, and vaccines against the West Nile virus are also not yet available. Adequate mosquito repellent remains the only option to avoid infection. (fp)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.

Dipl. Geogr. Fabian Peters

Swell:

  • Deutsches Aerzteblatt international: RKI expects the West Nile Virus to spread further in Germany (June 18, 2020), aerzteblatt.de



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