Sevilla West Nile Virus Outbreak Claims First Victim

A 77-year-old man has become the first person to die during an outbreak of the West Nile virus in the province of Seville in southern Spain.

The incident occurred in La Puebla del Rio, a town of 11,000 inhabitants, where the man was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of the Virgen del Rocio Hospital in Seville where he later died.

According to the latest data provided by the Ministry of Health, the outbreak already affects 35 people from Coria del Rio and La Puebla del Rio, which are all in Spain’s Andalusia region.

Seville, where the sick are hospitalised, is the capital of Andalusia.

According to the World Health Organization, about 80 per cent of infected people do not experience symptoms, but in other cases, it can affect the central nervous system, and in less than 1 per cent can cause inflammation of the brain that can lead to death.

Thirty-two of the people infected are hospitalized and six of them are in the Intensive Care Unit, reported the Spanish newspaper El Mundo.

Two of the six admitted to the ICU are in serious condition. They are a 14-year-old girl and a 70-year-old man, both from Coria del Rio. The man had a liver transplant eleven years ago, reported the Spanish newspaper ABC.

In all of the cases hospitalised it involves people with meningoencephalitis of varying severity.

The West Nile virus is a disease that is transmitted to people by mosquito bites and can also affect birds, horses, and other mammals.

During the month of August, the Junta of Andalucia detected four cases of Nile fever in horses, two in the province of Huelva, one in Jerez de la Frontera (Cadiz) and another in Dos Hermanas (Seville). There are also two new suspected cases, one in Utrera (Seville) and another in the province of Huelva.

The director of the Aljarafe health district in Seville, Rocio Hernandez, explained that there is no precedent for an outbreak with so many people affected in Andalusia, although there had been outbreaks in Romania and Greece, ABC reported.

Health officials in Andalusia have urged locals to put up mosquito nets and screens in their homes to avoid mosquito bites.

Climate change has been blamed on the spread of the disease originally from East Africa into Europe, Asia and America.