Since the start of the 2021 West Nile virus (WNV) transmission season, up to 9 September 2021, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) has reported 87 cases of West Nile fever in EU and EEA countries, comprising of 43 cases in Greece (including three deaths), 27 in Italy, 12 in Serbia (including two deaths), five in Spain (including one death), four in Romania (including one death), three in Austria, three in Hungary and two in Germany.
West Nile fever is caused by West Nile virus (WNV) and occurs annually in southern and central Europe. The virus is spread by mosquito bites and can cause a flu-like illness and, on rare occasions, severe disease.
Advice for travellers
Travellers should be advised to:
- practice mosquito bite avoidance measures at all times, especially at dusk and dawn during peak transmission times and when outbreaks are known to be occurring
- seek medical advice if they develop a sudden onset of flu-like symptoms with fever following travel to a risk area
Blood donors should note that if they have travelled to an area where WNV has been detected in the past four months, they may need to be tested for the virus before donating blood. All travel must be mentioned to the blood transfusion service so that they can determine whether a test is required. The Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service (SNBTS) has produced a leaflet which details information about blood donation after travel.
It should be noted there is no vaccine which protects against WNV.
Further advice and information on West Nile fever is available on the TRAVAX (for health professionals) and fitfortravel (for the general public) websites.
Source: TRAVAX, 14 September 2021