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West Nile Virus in Italy

13 Sep 2012

In 2012, the West Nile Virus (WNV) transmission season began one month earlier than normal. It is thought that this could be attributed to the ongoing very hot summer causing very high mosquito density.

Between July and September 2012, 13 confirmed cases of WNV infection have been recorded in the Veneto region of north-eastern Italy. Of the 13 cases, 3 had WN fever, 5 had neuroinvasive disease and 5 were diagnosed when screening blood donors.

Most of the cases were from Venice province (10) with 2 in Vicenza province and one in Treviso province.

Advice for Travellers

West Nile virus infection is transmitted by Culex mosquitoes which bite mainly from dusk to dawn. Reservoir hosts are usually birds. Most infections are asymptomatic and severe infection is rare. West Nile virus infection is rarely reported in travellers.

Risk is greatest in those undertaking outdoor activities. Travellers should take precautions to prevent mosquito bites especially during summer months.