What is West Nile Fever and what are the health risks

In the summer of 2012, Europe was shocked by the tropical disease, West Nile fever. For a long time, this infectious disease only occurred in tropical areas. West Nile fever is mainly spread by mosquitoes that spread the West Nile virus. The infectious disease has been spotted in the popular holiday countries Greece, Italy and Turkey, among others. Additional measures to protect travelers, to prevent contamination of the West Nile virus and to exclude health risks as much as possible, are therefore strongly recommended.

West Nile fever

West Nile fever is an infectious disease belonging to the family Flaviviridae genus Flavivirus. This infectious disease was first identified in 1937. This infectious disease was then identified in Uganda, in the province of West Nile. The name of this infectious disease, West Nile fever, is due to this first place of discovery. The infectious disease initially mainly occurred in vertebrates in Africa and Western Asia. Over the years, the infectious disease has become increasingly common in humans and the infectious disease has also been diagnosed in many Southern European and Eastern European countries. To date, no vaccine has been discovered for this infectious disease. When a patient is diagnosed with West Nile fever, the patient’s treatment is aimed at relieving the symptoms by administering painkillers and antipyretics. In addition to medication, it is important that the patient takes sufficient bed rest and, above all, continues to eat and drink well.Not all people infected with the West Nile virus actually become ill. About 20% of people infected with the virus will actually experience the symptoms of the infectious disease. In most cases, people suffer from moderate symptoms that are comparable to symptoms that occur with the flu. This includes symptoms such as fever and headache. In most cases, these symptoms disappear on their own. However, the virus can also lead to meningitis, sometimes even resulting in death. People over 60 in particular are in the so-called risk group.

Longer-term effects

Even when the symptoms seem to disappear on their own, the West Nile virus can still leave deep marks. Researchers affiliated with three different American institutions, the Baylor College of Medicine, Texas Children’s Hospital and the University of Texas Health Science Center, have investigated the consequences of the West Nile virus. Particularly in terms of the longer term. This study showed that people who have been infected with the West Nile virus in the past have a greater risk of kidney problems. There is also a greater risk of nerve and brain disorders.

Spread of West Nile Virus

As far as is currently known, the infectious disease can only be transmitted through a mosquito bite. Scientists expect that the infectious disease can also be transmitted through blood transfusion. That is why it was decided in July 2012 to ask every blood donor about his previous holiday trips. Donors who have been on holiday to countries where the West Nile virus has been diagnosed are therefore no longer allowed to donate blood.


Mosquitoes are considered the biggest culprits when it comes to spreading the West Nile virus. If you want to take preventive measures against West Nile fever, it is important to take measures to prevent mosquitoes from biting you.

Tips against mosquitoes

  • Especially when you travel to so-called high-risk countries, it is important to use a mosquito repellent product. The use of a product based on DEET (N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide) is particularly recommended.
  • Cover your skin with clothes as much as possible. Wear long-sleeved shirts and preferably long pants.
  • Avoid areas such as standing water. After all, many mosquitoes are attracted to stagnant water.
  • Use a mosquito net indoors.


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