The World Health Organisation (WHO) is warning holidaymakers and brits living abroad of the mosquito-borne West Nile virus, after the number of reported infections so far in 2018 has peaked to the highest increase in the past four years.
So far there have been 401 cases of West Nile virus reported in Europe, with 22 deaths. Currently, there is no vaccine against the virus and around 80% of people infected do not show any symptoms.
The deadly disease is spreading across southern and central Europe with some sightings of the mosquito, Culex modestus, reported in the UK. Public Health England have confirmed that although there have been sightings there are no traces of the West Nile virus in the UK, and the risk of contracting the disease here is low.
According to WHO the high temperatures and downpours followed by dry weather have provided an ideal breeding setting for mosquitos, with Serbia being the most affected country at 126 reported cases. Italy has seen 123 infections followed by Greece, Hungary and Romania.
Pregnant women, the elderly and those with existing medical conditions are most at risk of contracting the deadly disease, so precautions should be taken at all times.
The World Health Organisation advises people to avoid taking part in outdoor activities during dusk, when the mosquitos are most likely to bite. Holidaymakers and local residents should also make sure they are wearing a DEET repellent and light, long sleeve clothing.
Mosquitos are also known for carrying other life-threatening diseases such as Malaria or the Zika Virus.
When travelling to an area known for a mosquito-borne disease it is advised holidaymakers visit their GP and have any relevant vaccinations. NaTHNaC provides a comprehensive list of vaccinations required for each country.
Most vaccinations will not be available on the NHS and the non-refundable cost will need to be paid by the individual. There are a couple of travel insurance policies that will offer cover to reimburse the cost of vaccinations if the holiday is cancelled, so this may be something to look out for – particularly if several vaccinations are required.