ECDC release rapid risk assessment on West Nile fever in the EU

21 August 2018

Article: 52/3303

An unusual early start and high number of locally acquired West Nile virus infections have been observed this year. The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) assessed the epidemiological situation and the risk to public health in the EU in a rapid risk assessment published on 13 August 2018.

In 2018, as of 9 August, EU member states had reported 231 human cases and EU neighbouring countries had reported 104 cases. The surveillance data gathered through seasonal monitoring indicates a higher number of West Nile virus infections compared to the same period in previous years. Additionally, these cases were reported earlier in the season.

Options for response include: 

  • all persons in affected areas should take personal protective measures against mosquito bites 
  • clinicians and public health professionals in both affected areas and as yet unaffected areas with suitable environmental conditions should be aware of the epidemiological situation to ensure early detection 
  • clinicians are advised to include West Nile fever in the differential diagnosis for persons who have returned from affected areas 
  • EU member states must implement 28-day donor deferral or test blood donors, after leaving an affected area, to prevent infection through blood transfusion

Advice and information is also available on the TRAVAX (for health professionals) and fitfortravel (for the general public) websites.

Source: ECDC, 13 August 2018