West Nile virus outbreak in Greece

Spraying insect repellent

Tourists to Greece have been advised to consider preventative measures to minimise exposure to mosquitos due to an outbreak of West Nile virus. Although most people infected with the virus don’t feel sick, around one in five develop a fever and in around one in 150 cases, people develop a serious and sometimes fatal illness.

Preventative measures that can be taken by travellers include using insect repellant and ensuring skin is covered by trousers and long sleeves. “There have been enough cases to know that this is now a public health issue,” said Danai Pervanidou of the Hellenic Center for Disease Control and Prevention. “The virus has established itself in Greece through migratory birds and we are recommending that everyone takes personal protective measures such as wearing long sleeves, avoiding places with stagnant water and using mosquito nets and repellent.”

According to the UK Foreign Office, there were 300 cases of West Nile virus in 2018. There is no vaccine for the disease and so prevention is paramount. As always, it is prudent for travellers to take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance before they travel to avoid running into potentially devastating medical expenses.