Catalonia warns of the spread of West Nile virus by mosquitoes: “It exists”

Catalonia warns of the spread of West Nile virus by mosquitoes: “It exists”

Some time ago, the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) warned about the spread of West Nile virus (WNV), which is transmitted by common mosquitoes (Culex Peppens) and that in more serious infections it can lead to encephalitis. In fact, the same agency warned this week of a continued increase in mosquito-borne diseases, also referring to dengue fever. in this context, Catalonia is on alert for the spread of West Nile virus by mosquitoes.

The latest news about the spread of the virus coincided with Barcelona celebrating conferences on emerging diseases with the participation of… Nuria Busquets, Principal Investigator of the Arbovirus Research Line of IRTA-CReSA (Animal Health Research Center of the Institute of Agri-Food Research and Technology). In conversation with ElNacional.catBusquets explains that there are very few cases of West Nile virus in Catalonia and that the prevalence is lower than in other European regions (such as Andalusia), but “he is here“I have to keep an eye on that prop.

West Nile virus, in Catalonia since 2017

The researcher points out this The virus has been present in the country since 2017 Which have been discovered in Segrià, Baix Camp and Llobregat delta – In humans, a case was discovered in Reus in September 2022 and another in El Prat in the same month of 2023, which required admission to the intensive care unit -. In collaboration with the Departments of Climate Action and Health, Busquets and his group’s mission is to monitor the spread of West Nile virus in animals: mainly in birds, mosquitoes and horses. While horses or most birds are not a reservoir of the virus, there are birds such as goshawks that are highly susceptible to infection and thus can help determine transmission of the virus by mosquitoes.

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This surveillance work is used to control mosquitoes and apply preventative measures, as well as to maintain control of blood banks and help doctors be on the scene to make diagnoses. The researcher is thus very clear: “Although its levels are lower than in other European regions, the virus is spreading in Catalonia. Although it is not an alarming condition, it is time to prevent it“This means avoiding mosquito bites and controlling mosquito populations, which can also be applied to tiger mosquitoes infected with dengue fever – using the Mosquito Alert app, for example.

Mosquitoes, West Nile virus, and the climate crisis

Busquets adds that The climate crisis has a certain relationship with the expansion of WNV. because? Well, because it makes winters milder in temperate regions and the mosquito season longer, since there are fewer periods of cold weather and warmer weather. For example, infection in humans this year was reported in Andalusia in March, while previous Catalan cases were reported in September. It is also true that drought makes it difficult for mosquitoes, which need water, to reproduce. Therefore, there have been no cases in Catalonia so far, but there is a possibility that there will be some cases in the following months.

finally, The researcher focuses on dengue fever. Unlike West Nile virus, humans can transmit this disease to mosquitoes and there is no need for an animal reservoir. You need to protect yourself a lot when traveling. As with many other emerging pests and diseases, increased international travel facilitates their spread across borders.

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Everything you need to know about West Nile virus

The Ministry of Health remembers that The main route of transmission of West Nile virus is through the bite of an infected mosquitoEspecially the common mosquito (widely distributed in Catalonia). These mosquitoes bite infected birds, the virus is transmitted to the mosquito’s salivary glands and they bite humans again, thus injecting the virus. You should also be careful when having organ transplants or blood transfusions, but these are much less common methods of transmission. In the vast majority of cases, infected people will have no symptoms, although some people may experience fever, myalgia (muscle pain), arthralgia (joint pain), headache (headache), fatigue, and photophobia (light intolerance). Although these conditions are often mild, there are serious conditions that can cause meningitis, encephalitis, and Guillain-Barré syndrome.

There is no treatment other than treating the symptoms. The most important thing is prevention: Avoid mosquito bites with clothing that covers most of the body and repellents, as well as avoiding being outside during times when mosquitoes are most active (early morning and late afternoon).

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