West Nile Virus symptoms: Travel warning as deadly fever breaks out in Spain and Italy that can cause paralysis and seizures

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A travel warning has been issued for Spain and Italy after an outbreak of the deadly West Nile Virus.

The virus has been detected in two individuals in Seville, Spain, and Modena, Italy, leading to a warning from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) The mosquito-borne virus can cause severe symptoms in one out of every five infected individuals, leading to fever, body aches, rashes, and vomiting.

In extreme cases, patients may suffer from seizures, muscle weakness, and even paralysis. Recovery from the severe illness might take several weeks or months, and some effects could be permanent.

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There are currently no specific medicines available to treat West Nile. Rest, fluids, and over-the-counter pain medications is advised to relieve some symptoms. In severe cases, patients often need to be hospitalised to receive supportive treatment, such as intravenous fluids, pain medication, and nursing care.

A travel warning has been issued for Spain and Italy after an outbreak of the deadly West Nile Virus. (Photo: AFP via Getty Images)A travel warning has been issued for Spain and Italy after an outbreak of the deadly West Nile Virus. (Photo: AFP via Getty Images)
A travel warning has been issued for Spain and Italy after an outbreak of the deadly West Nile Virus. (Photo: AFP via Getty Images) | AFP via Getty Images

The ECDC has raised the alarm, confirming that these incidents were locally acquired rather than imported from tropical regions. The virus has been detected in mosquitoes within Italy's Chieti province. The ECDC has also issued stark warnings about the escalating severity of mosquito-borne disease outbreaks across Europe as cases of dengue and chikungunya viruses are also on the rise.

The Director of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), Andrea Ammon, warned: "Europe is already seeing how climate change is creating more favourable conditions for invasive mosquitoes to spread into previously unaffected areas and infect more people with diseases such as dengue. Increased international travel from dengue-endemic countries will also increase the risk of imported cases, and inevitably also the risk of local outbreaks."

The ECDC has reported 713 locally acquired cases of West Nile virus across nine different European countries resulting in the loss of 67 lives. The virus has crept into 22 regions previously untouched by it.

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Last year's main hotspots for the deadly virus were Italy, Greece, Romania, Hungary, and Spain. For individuals over 50, or those battling underlying health conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, and cancer, the West Nile virus represents a significant health threat. The virus can result in severe complications that necessitate hospitalisation, including conditions like meningitis and encephalitis.

The American Centre of Disease Control said: "Most people infected with West Nile virus do not feel sick. About 1 in 5 people who are infected develop a fever and other symptoms. About 1 out of 150 infected people develop a serious, sometimes fatal, illness. Reduce your risk of West Nile by preventing mosquito bites."

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