Weekly updates: 2018 West Nile fever transmission season


Situation update

Between 5 and 11 October 2018, EU Member States reported 85 human West Nile virus infections in Italy (41), Romania (12), Greece (11), France (6), Hungary (6), Bulgaria (5), Austria (3) and the Czech Republic (1). EU neighbouring countries reported 48 cases in Israel (29) and Serbia (19).
In two areas (NUTS 3 level), human cases were reported for the first time, one new area in France and one in Bulgaria. All other human cases were reported from areas that have been affected during previous transmission seasons.
This week, 12 deaths were reported by Italy (7), Romania (2), Serbia (2) and Greece (1).

In the same week, 13 outbreaks among equids were reported by Hungary (5), France (3), Italy (2), Germany (1), Greece (1) and Spain (1).

In September, a 31-year-old veterinarian was diagnosed with suspected West Nile Virus (WNV) infection after having performed necropsy of a just-deceased owl (great grey owl, Strix nebulosa) found in a wildlife park near Poing, Ebersberg, Bavaria. WNV was detected in the owl by PCR in tissue samples recovered during the necropsy. In the veterinarian, positive serological tests, with IgM antibodies (IF titre 1:80), strongly indicated WNV infection. Further tests of follow-up samples from the patient to confirm the diagnosis are pending.

Assessment: WNV infections acquired after occupational exposure by necropsy on birds (blue jay, the USA, 2002), mice (in the USA, 2002) and horses (South Africa, 2008) have been reported in literature, and are not unexpected. It is important to note that in this case, transmission by mosquitoes can be excluded.

In 2018 and as of 11 October 2018, EU Member States have reported 1 402 human cases in Italy (536), Greece (294), Romania (268), Hungary (203), Croatia (45), France (22), Austria (18), Bulgaria (11), Slovenia (3) and the Czech Republic (2). EU neighbouring countries reported 482 human cases in Serbia (369), Israel (110) and Kosovo* (3). To date, 154 deaths due to West Nile virus infection have been reported by Italy (43), Romania (38), Greece (35), Serbia (34), Bulgaria (1), the Czech Republic (1), Hungary (1) and Kosovo* (1).

During the current transmission season, 235 outbreaks among equids have been reported by Italy (122), Hungary (84), Greece (14), France (8), Romania (2), Germany (2), Austria (1), Spain (1) and Slovenia (1).

In accordance with European Commission Directive 2014/110/EU, prospective blood donors should defer for 28 days after leaving an area with evidence of West Nile virus circulation among humans unless the results of an individual nucleic acid test are negative.

*This designation is without prejudice to positions on status, and is in line with UNSCR 1244 and the International Court of Justice Opinion on the Kosovo Declaration of Independence..

Data from the ECDC surveillance Atlas

Weekly updates

Case definition

EU case definition for diagnosing and reporting West Nile fever, under Decision No 2119/98/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council.

ECDC is providing, for the current transmission season, weekly updates on the reported cases of West Nile fever in humans and equidae in the EU Member States and neighbouring countries (i.e. those included in WHO European region and/or bordering the Mediterranean Sea). Read more