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First transmission of West Nile virus to a human being in Germany
According to experts, the life-threatening West Nile virus is spreading more and more in Europe. More than 70 deaths from the pathogen have already been reported this year. So far, the pathogen has hardly appeared in this country. But now the West Nile virus was transmitted to a human for the first time.
Dangerous virus continues to spread
The World Health Organization (WHO) recently published a list of diseases and pathogens that "pose a public health risk and for which there are no or insufficient countermeasures". In this context, she also pointed out on her website diseases that "still pose major problems for public health" and require further research. One of these diseases is West Nile fever caused by the West Nile virus. This pathogen is spreading more and more in Europe. In Germany, a transmission of the pathogen to a human has now been registered for the first time.
Veterinarian fell ill with West Nile fever
As the Bavarian State Office for Health and Food Safety (LGL) wrote in a statement, a veterinarian in Bavaria fell ill with West Nile fever a few days after the autopsy of a great gray owl from a wildlife park in the Ebersberg district.
According to the information, the man has now recovered.
According to the LGL, the virus was most likely transmitted through direct contact with the body fluids of the bird that contained the pathogen.
"This is the first known transmission of West Nile virus to a human being within Germany," the message said. "There is no known infection from person to person."
Infection is often asymptomatic
The infection is asymptomatic in 80 percent of those infected. Only about 20 percent show mild symptoms such as fever and flu-like symptoms.
In individual cases - especially in older patients with previous illnesses - a more severe, highly febrile course of the disease with inflammation of the brain can occur. In rare cases, the disease can also be fatal.
Evidence of West Nile Virus is subject to notification.
Do not touch animals that have died in nature
The West Nile virus is usually transmitted by mosquitoes. Birds are the main hosts for the pathogen, with the infection remaining asymptomatic in most cases.
Highly susceptible bird species can get sick and die from it. If you find dead birds, you should never touch them and contact the responsible veterinary office in the event of a cluster of dead birds.
In general, animals that have died in nature should not be touched, as there may be a risk of infection. Occupationally exposed persons, especially when dissecting dead birds or horses, should observe occupational safety.
Avoid mosquito bites
As the LGL explains, mosquitoes can also transmit the virus to humans, but the likelihood of infection is very low in Germany due to the advanced season.
In the past, seasonal outbreaks or isolated transmissions have occurred more often in Europe, particularly in southern European countries.
This year, in particular from southern and south-eastern Europe, for example also from northern Italy, significantly more cases were reported than in previous years.
To protect against a possible disease, as with other diseases transmitted by mosquitos, mosquito bites should be avoided as much as possible by adequate mosquito prophylaxis. (ad)