West Nile fever in Europe

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As of 20 September 2018, 1,505 confirmed and probable locally acquired human West Nile Virus (WNV) infections had been reported by European countries. European Union (EU) Member States reported 1,135 human cases, with the majority (453) coming from Italy. Greece reported 225 cases, Romania 216, Hungary 167, Croatia 36, France 16, Austria 15, Bulgaria four and Slovenia three. EU neighbouring countries reported 370 human cases in Serbia, Israel and Kosovo. To date, 115 deaths due to West Nile virus infection have been reported, with 35 by Italy, 29 in Serbia, 25 in Romania, 24 in Greece, and one each in Hungary and Kosovo.

The case fatality ratio (CFR) in 2018 has not exceeded the CFR in the previous two years (7.6 per cent in 2018 compared with 11.1 per cent in both 2016 and 2017). The proportion of cases with West Nile neuroinvasive disease (WNND) among symptomatic cases is lower than the previous two years (70 per cent in 2018 compared with 82 per cent in 2017 and 86 per cent in 2016).

All human cases reported during the current transmission season were in previously affected countries. The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control recommended that ‘personal protection from mosquito bites is advisable for any person residing in or visiting affected areas, especially the elderly and immunocompromised who are at higher risk of developing severe symptoms’.