Update 15.9.2018: West Nile virus spread in Bavaria? Dead Owl found After a case of West Nile Fever in a Little Owl in Bavaria, mosquitoes in the zoo are targeted. In addition, mosquito larvae are to be fought, as the veterinarian of the Wildpark Poing, Sandra Klimm, announced on Friday. Found dead wild birds are therefore examined in the future on the virus. Nationwide, there are now three evidences of West Nile fever in birds, two of them in Saxony-Anhalt. Experts are worried because the mosquito-borne pathogen, which can also be transmitted to humans, was not yet native to Germany.
Jonas Schmidt-Chanasit from the Bernhard Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine in Hamburg thinks it makes sense to also investigate the staff of the zoo. The majority of infections in humans will not be detected because those affected show little or no symptoms. In recent years, there have been six or seven imported West Nile cases in Germany. The obligation to register existed only since 2015. In South and Southeastern Europe, there is a particularly violent wave of infections this season with already recorded 90 deaths, especially in the elderly. Affected are mainly Serbia (29 deaths), Italy (21), Greece and Romania (both 19), as the European health authority ECDC announced on Friday afternoon. Researchers assume that even the mosquito species occurring in Germany can transmit the virus. Schmidt-Chanasit was also in favor of testing blood donation services for the virus – in Bavaria, for example, that was not the case so far. "If you know the virus is circulating, it has to be discussed," he said. He assumes that infected mosquitoes from southern Europe have caused the infections in Germany. The insects would be easily brought in by truck or freight train. "We assume that our little owl is an isolated case with entry of the pathogen from the wild bird population", it was said by the game park in the district of Ebersberg. Contagion is only possible through mosquito bites and not through contact with birds. The sites in Saxony-Anhalt – affected by a beard owl in the Zoo Halle and a free-living hawk in Weißandt-Gölzau – are about 25 kilometers apart. The virus was first detected in 1937 in the West Nile region of Uganda. Meanwhile, the pathogen is native to much of Africa, Asia and Europe. In the 1990s, he made the leap across the Atlantic and is now also widespread in the United States. It was only a matter of time before the virus first appeared in Germany, according to a spokeswoman for the Friedrich Loeffler Institute after the third find. Over the winter, the virus will probably not hold. Update of September 13, 2018, 18:02 clock: West Nile virus first detected in Bavaria The West Nile virus is on the rise: now the pathogen was first detected in Bavaria. As the dpa, citing the State Office for Health and Food Safety (LGL) in Erlangen on Thursday tells, the dangerous West Nile virus was detected in a dead coot from a wildlife park in Poing in the Upper Bavarian district of Ebersberg. West Nile virus: already the second case in Germany As the dpa reports, the West Nile virus on Thursday (13 September 2018) was also detected in a zoo in Saxony-Anhalt in a hawk. This is the third case in Germany. For the first time, the virus was also discovered at the end of August by a bearded owl from a zoo in Halle / Saale. The West Nile virus is transmitted by mosquitoes. It usually infects birds, but can also be transmitted to horses and humans. In most cases, the infection remains without symptoms. It was only a matter of time before the virus first occurs in Germany, said a spokeswoman for the Friedrich Loeffler Institute (FLI). However, the institute believes that in Germany this year there will be isolated cases of infected birds. Because the mosquito season is slowly coming to an end and the pathogens do not last long in the insects for very long, said the spokeswoman. Therefore, the virus will probably not last over the winter. Already 88 deaths from the West Nile virus in Europe In southern European countries, many people were diagnosed with West Nile Fever (WNF) this year. At least 88 deaths have been reported across Europe so far, and more than 800 people are infected. The dark figure is probably much higher. Until now, there was no evidence of the pathogen in birds outdoors. This may be due to the fact that it does not attract attention in animals in nature, said the FLI spokeswoman. "A dead zoo animal is being investigated sooner." The transfer to humans is also rather unlikely: "First an animal must be infected, then the mosquito must pick up the pathogen and multiply in it and then transfer it to humans, which is a fairly long chain." In humans, the infection runs in 80 percent of those without symptoms. The rest can be flu-like, such as mild fever. In individual cases – especially in older patients with pre-existing conditions – but also a severe disease course with high fever and meningitis can occur, said the LGL. In rare cases, the disease could be fatal. Update from 12.09.2018, 10:30: Indigenous mosquitoes as possible transmitters Since the Friedrich-Loeffler-Institut (FLI) assumes that domestic mosquito species are also suitable as transmitters for the dangerous West Nile virus in Germany, investigations are currently underway with caught mosquitoes. Laboratory experiments have shown that, for example, the common mosquito (Culex pipiens) can not only carry the virus in itself, but also be able to transmit the pathogen, said the head of the reference laboratory for West Nile virus at the FLI, Ute Ziegler , Update of 11 September 2018, 16:05: Number of deaths in Europe rises to 74 The West Nile virus is on the rise again: the number of deaths in Europe has risen to at least 74. In the European Union, at least 800 people have been infected with the virus. The dark figure is likely to be much higher. How do you recognize the virus, which symptoms occur? Treacherous to the West Nile virus is: Most sufferers have no or only harmless symptoms such as headache and body aches. Other typical symptoms include muscle aches, swollen lymph nodes and fever. Even rash on the chest, back and arms are possible and occur in about one third of those affected. Less common are meningitis. In the worst case, the disease is deadly. The European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) announced on Friday the current number of people suffering from West Nile virus on its website. Thus, 26 people have already died in Serbia, 13 in Italy, 12 in Romania, one in Hungary and one in Kosovo. In Greece, according to ECDC, 18 people have died, but this contradicts the information provided by the Greek Ministry of Health, which said 21 deaths on Friday (see below). Update of 10 September 2018, 3 pm: Number of dead and infected in Greece continues to rise The number of people suffering and dying from West Nile fever this year continues to rise. In Greece, according to new data from the Ministry of Health so far 21 people died as a result of the virus disease. Nearly 180 other infections were recorded, most of them on the Peloponnese peninsula and in the rural areas around Athens as well as in the area around the port city of Thessaloniki. This was announced by a spokesman for the Ministry of Health (Keelpno) on Greek Broadcasting (ERT) on Friday.23 People are currently being treated in hospitals. The actual number of infected people is likely to be much higher: Most sufferers have no or harmless symptoms such as headache and body aches. The virus is mainly transmitted by mosquitoes. Update of 30.08.18 (17.30 clock): Bird infected with West Nile virus discovered in zoo: mosquito study in Saxony-Anhalt After the detection of the dangerous West Nile virus in a bearded owl in the zoo of Halle / Saale experts start there with the collecting of mosquitoes. In addition mosquito traps with attractants would be set up, informed the Friedrich Loeffler institute (FLI) on the island Riems on Thursday. In addition, water surfaces were searched for eggs and larvae, said a spokeswoman for the institute. Mosquitoes are considered transmitters of the pathogen, which was first detected in a bird in Germany. The mosquito finds from the zoo would later transported cooled in the laboratory, where the genetic material of the insects is examined for the pathogen. "Studies by zoo employees are currently not planned to our knowledge," said Klaus Stark of the Robert Koch Institute. "But if clinical suspects occur, they must be clarified quickly." Update from 29.08.18 (16.30 clock): First animal in Germany infected with West Nile virus So far Germany has been spared from the West Nile virus. But now for the first time an infected bird was found in this country. The pathogen of West Nile fever was detected in a bearded owl in Halle (Saale), as the Friedrich Loeffler Institute (FLI) on the island of Riems announced on Wednesday. Southern European countries are currently reporting increasingly fatal cases of West Nile fever, especially in the elderly. In Germany, the disease occurs only very rarely, so far all those affected had been infected abroad. Dead owlet with pathogen infected The gray owl was found dead in its aviary in mid-August, according to the FLI. The West Nile virus mainly infects birds, but it can also be transmitted by mosquitoes to other hosts such as horses and humans. How the pathogen got to Halle will now be shown in detail. It also checks whether mosquitoes in the area carry the virus. More dead wild birds in Germany since four weeks According to the institute, dead wild birds have been found across Germany for four weeks – mostly killed by the Usutu virus. The West Nile virus is closely related to this pathogen. Wild bird specimens sent to the National Reference Laboratory for West Nile Virus Infections at the FLI are always screened for both viruses. In birds, infection with the West Nile virus usually remains asymptomatic, explained the institute. However, a number of bird species are susceptible to the pathogen, so that it could lead to massive epidemics with deaths. Update from 29.08.18 (12.55): Number of dead in Greece has increased The number of people who died of West Nile fever in Greece this year has increased from five to 16 within one week. This was announced by a spokeswoman for the Keelpno authority on Wednesday of the state news agency ANA-MPA. More than 130 other infections were recorded, most on the Peloponnese peninsula and in the rural areas around Athens and in the area around the port of Thessaloniki. The number of infected people is likely to be far higher: Most sufferers have no or harmless symptoms such as head and limb pain, as physicians explained in the state radio. Residents were advised to use vaporizers or other insect repellents – the virus is mainly transmitted by mosquitoes. Typical symptoms include muscle aches, swollen lymph nodes and fever. About one third of the patients get a rash on the chest, back and arms. Less common are meningitis. In the worst case, the disease is deadly. In Germany, the West Nile fever occurs only very rarely, which has always been imported from abroad cases. Other countries report fatalities Many southern European countries are currently reporting increasingly fatal cases of West Nile fever. In Serbia, there are now 21 confirmed deaths since the beginning of the year, the authorities said on Wednesday. Thus, a total of around 400 other infections were detected in Greece, Italy and Serbia. In Italy, the pathogen spreads to the nervous system in more patients, according to the weekly ISS reports. In total, 103 out of the 255 infections confirmed were severe. According to the news agency Ansa, only 55 infections were recorded in the whole of the previous year, 27 with severe events. Only one person died. Update from 08/24/18: Two dead and 68 ill in Israel, as the German Press Agency (dpa) reported on Friday, have now died in Israel, two people on mosquito-transmitted West Nile fever. Those affected were 85 and 75 years old and both had a medical history, the Ministry of Health confirmed on Friday. 68 people were also ill, most of them older people. According to media reports, a total of 14 of those affected are in serious condition. As the Times of Israel wrote, the number of previously reported cases is twice as high as last year. There were mosquitoes with the virus found in several coastal areas. August to October is the peak time for West Nile fever in Israel. Observe travel and safety information for affected areas The Travel Medicine Center (CRM) and the Foreign Office (AA) now also point out the dangers in their travel and safety information. In Greece, for example, the region of Attica around the capital Athens, in northern Italy the regions of Emilia-Romagna, Veneto, Lombardy and Piedmont, as well as parts of Hungary and Romania. West Nile fever is a viral disease spread by migratory birds and transmitted by mosquitoes to humans, explains the AA. In Italy in 2018 more than 120 cases with several deaths had already been reported. In Romania there were more than 30 cases and one death. 11 dead by West Nile virus in Greece Eleven people have died of West Nile fever in Greece this year. At least 96 other people fell ill, most on the Peloponnese peninsula and in the rural areas of eastern Athens. The competent authority of the Ministry of Health, Keelpno, said on Thursday. The number of infected people could be even higher: Most of the patients had no or harmless symptoms such as head and limb pain, said doctors on state radio. Residents were advised to use vaporizers or ointments against insects. Typical symptoms of the viral disease are muscle pain, swollen lymph nodes and fever. About one third of the patients get a rash on the chest, back and arms. Less common are meningitis. In the worst case, the disease is deadly. There is no vaccine. 28 deaths and more than 300 sufferers: The West Nile fever is on the rise in southern Europe. The virus causes serious symptoms. Flu-like symptoms with fever, body aches or diarrhea are not uncommon. The infection can also lead to brain and meningitis as well as to paralysis. These can in the worst case lead to death. In 80 percent of those affected, however, the virus remains unnoticed. Travelers who want to spend their holidays in southern European regions in 2018 should definitely pay attention to good mosquito repellent. More information is available in the video (as of 09.08.18).
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According to the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), 273 cases of West Nile fever were reported between 3 and 16 August 2018. 14 people died of it, informs the authority. Alone between 10 and 16 August 2018, EU member states again reported 41 cases of West Nile fever. Photo: Andreas Lander / dpa