Greece holidayers warned of rise in mosquito carrying West Nile virus

Henrietta Strickland
June 19, 2019

But before you book anything, you may want to take notice of a warning put out by the Foreign Office, urging holidaymakers to take care when travelling to Greece. The mosquito-borne virus is a particular concern in the hotter months when the insects are active.

At this time of year wildfires and strikes are usually uppermost in the minds of tourists visiting Greece.

Holidaymakers who are heading to Greece this summer are being warned to take precautions against a mosquito-borne disease which infected 316 people past year and killed 50, a record. It's advisable to avoid getting bitten by using repellent, wearing full-coverage clothing and sleeping with nets.

A week after the Foreign Office took the step of including the insects among the potential perils of travel to Greece, health officials are urging holidaymakers to take precautions against West Nile virus following an unprecedented outbreak of the mosquito-borne disease previous year.

Greece: West Nile virus warning - is it safe to travel to Greece on holiday?

The UK government website advises travellers to "consider preventative measures to minimise exposure to mosquitoes, for example using mosquito repellent when outdoors and closing doors or windows or using screens".

What are the symptoms of West Nile virus?

Although it is often symptomless, some people affected by West Nile virus will experience mild flu-like issues, such as fever and headaches.

"In addition, window and door screens can keep mosquitoes out".

Among those diagnosed in Greece past year, many displayed symptoms of neuro-invasive disease such as encephalitis, meningitis and acute paralysis.

Older people and those with existing health conditions are at more risk of severe symptoms.

According to the World Health Organisation, Italy had 123 cases previous year, Hungary had 31 and Serbia had 126.

The US embassy in Athens has now issued a health alert encouraging citizens to take preventative measures, including keeping grass and shrubs trimmed and cleaning up mosquito breeding areas.

Awareness-raising programmes for medical professionals have been stepped up with information leaflets distributed to airports as well as municipal and regional authorities nationwide.

And according to figures from the World Health Organisation (WHO), several European countries had seen hundreds of cases of the virus, including Italy (123 cases), Serbia (126) and Hungary (31 cases).

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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