Death toll from West Nile outbreak in Spain climbs to 4

by frank Utonga

MADRID – The death toll from an outbreak in southern Spain of West Nile virus, which is spread by mosquitos, has risen to four, local health authorities said Monday.

An 87-year-old woman who was hospitalised with the disease in the town of Puerto Real in the southwestern province of Cadiz is the latest fatal victim of the outbreak, the health department of the regional government of Andalusia said in a statement.

Three other elderly people have died from the disease in the neighbouring province of Seville where the outbreak began earlier this year in the towns of Coria del Rio and La Puebla del Rio, both located next to the Guadalquivir marshes.

Ten other people are in hospital with the disease in the two provinces, including four who are in intensive care units, the statement added.

West Nile virus can cause symptoms similar to those of the flu, but in extreme cases, it can result in tremors, fever, comas and a lethal swelling of the brain tissue known as encephalitis. It can also cause meningitis.

First discovered in Uganda in 1937, the virus is carried by birds and spread to humans by mosquitoes. It is indigenous to Africa, Asia, Europe and Australia.

The regional government of Andalusia has sprayed several wetland areas with pesticides to kill mosquitos and lower the risk of West Nile virus transmission, and has urged people to install mosquito nets and screens in their homes.

The outbreak comes as Spain battles one of the severest Covid-19 epidemics in Europe with nearly 30,000 deaths.

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