Another three people died of the West Nile virus in the last two days. With them the total number of people that passed away because of the virus reached seven and the number of the infected now is 77. 33 of them were hospitalized with encephalitis symptoms, and eight others are treated in the emergency department.
Three of the people that died from West Nile virus had other health problems. One of them – a 76-year-old man from the town of Kilkis who was in the infectious diseases ward of the hospital in Thessaloniki, had a heart disease. One of the three adults died on Tuesday, while the other two died on Wednesday – the day they were diagnosed. The contamination problem is expected to continue until mid-September. For now, between 5 and 10 infected people are diagnosed every day. It is estimated that up to now around 9500 people pulled through the virus and 90% had no symptoms.
AHEPA Hospital in Thessaloniki and the hospital in Larissa expected today to receive 2000 reagents to begin the molecular analysis of blood banks, which are not used due to the spread of infection. Scientists, who attended yesterday's information seminar on the infection held at Papageorgiu hospital, said the epidemics will become pandemic like the Η1Ν1 flu last winter. According to them, the cases of infection should significantly drop by the end of September because of falling temperatures. It is clear that high temperatures have affected the breeding of the mosquitoes, especially in Central Macedonia, as there are lakes where migratory birds gather, which spread different viruses.
The president of the Infectious Diseases Center George Saroglou noted that 90 % of the people who pulled through the West Nile virus had no symptoms. The infection in the remaining 10 % was in light form with temperature and a very small percentage - mostly older people with health problems, had complications.
“We have found antibodies of the virus in examinations in 2009 and 2007, which means that there was evidence of the virus in the past. It was found in horses that get also infected, and this is noted in the studies made in 2004 before the Olympic Games. But we have not detected clinical cases, since most people did not get ill, they had no symptoms or they were quite mild and resembled an ordinary flu. A long time ago we had cases of encephalitis of unknown origin, which most likely were caused by the West Nile virus, but they have not been examined,” explained for Ta Nea newspaper Mr. Saroglou. Laboratory experiments that detected the virus spread by mosquitoes have started because of the many cases of inflammation of the central nervous system, which was not due to known viruses such as meningitis.
According to Mr. Saroglоu although the West Nile virus is known in Greece for ten years, it has particularly developed in Central Macedonia, because there are areas of high humidity there, where flocks of mosquitoes gather. He recommended the village residents, especially the elderly, to avoid going out at dusk and early in the morning, to stay away from places of still waters that are mosquitoes favorites, to clean pots and yards of still water and to use insects repellents . Mr. Saroglou required the local authorities to continuously spray against mosquitoes.
The main regional secretary Mary Lyon announced that the Ministry of Finance will grant € 300,000 euros (this year € 2 million were granted) to continue spraying against mosquitoes. An action committee will be in each municipality, which will be in touch with the central crisis committee, said an article in Ethnos newspaper.
During yesterday's seminar experts noted that West Nile virus is not transmitted from person to person by touch, kiss, sexual or other type of contact. Symptoms usually appear 2 to 14 days after the mosquito bite and the first of them include mild fever and inability to concentrate. When these symptoms continue longer the suffering person should require medical assistance and to note weather he was bitten by a mosquito or whether he was in a dangerous zone.
The deputy governor on the topics of tourism and quality of life in Halkidiki Dionisis Aristotelidis assured that there are no people suffering from the West Nile virus on Halkidiki. He emphasized that necessary prevention measures are being taken.