A deadly virus known as West Nile Virus (WNV) has the potential to rapidly spread across countries via air currents, warns a renowned professor. The disease, transmitted by mosquitoes, has already caused outbreaks in Spain and can reach Ibiza from North Africa within 48 hours, aided by strong air currents that carry infected mosquitoes.
While the UK is currently not affected by WNV, the virus poses a significant health risk in other countries. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that out of every 150 infected people, one may develop a severe, and occasionally fatal, illness.
Luis Enjuanes, a doctor and research professor at the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC), emphasized the role of climate change in the spread of viral diseases like WNV. He presented his findings at a conference titled “Understanding viruses and preparing for future health challenges.”
The virus has recently been detected in several villages in Seville, Spain. The Directorate General of Public Health and Pharmaceutical Management of the Andalusian Regional Government confirmed the presence of WNV in mosquitoes captured in Guillena, El Castillo de las Guardas, and La Puebla del Río, through their monitoring network. This type of mosquito is most active at dawn and dusk, increasing the risk of transmission to humans.
To prevent infection, Spanish experts recommend wearing light-colored clothing that covers most of the skin, avoiding strong colognes or perfumes, and using registered repellents. Fortunately, the majority of people infected with WNV do not experience symptoms. However, those who do may exhibit flu-like symptoms, a skin rash, feeling sick, muscle weakness, confusion, and even seizures.
While most individuals recover within a few days, less than one percent of infected individuals may develop neurological complications such as encephalitis and meningitis, which can be fatal. Therefore, it is important to seek medical advice if any symptoms of WNV are observed, as recommended by the NHS.
Overall, the alarming nature of WNV spreading through air currents highlights the urgent need for global efforts to understand and combat the risks posed by viral diseases in an ever-changing climate.
– Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
– Diario de Ibiza
– World Health Organisation (WHO)