Mosquitoes known to carry deadly West Nile virus found in UK
Mosquitoes known to carry the deadly West Nile virus have been found in the UK.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) earlier issued a warning over the virus spreading across Europe.
And the bugs have now been spotted in Essex, Essex Live reports.
The public health agency reported a sharp increase in the number of European cases – with a total of 22 deaths as a result of the infection which causes severe fever, headaches, nausea and vomiting.
While sufferers can be treated post infection with intravenous fluids and respiratory support, there is no vaccine to prevent human contraction.
The disease is spread by mosquitoes who have previously fed on infected birds, before passing their infected blood on to humans via bites.
The government said the mosquito was found around the mouth of the River Thames for the first time on July 11.
A total of 401 cases of the virus have been reported in the EU so far in 2018.
Culex modestus, the type of mosquito, was found but officials have insisted that there are no traces of the West Nile virus, even if they have been spotted.
As many as 80 per cent of people infected do not show symptoms for the virus, but others may experience flu-like signs which could develop to a possibly fatal illness.
In extreme cases, sufferers can experience tremors, fever, comas, and a lethal swelling of the brain tissue, also known as encephalitis. It can also cause meningitis, which also poses a danger if it transpires.
West Nile virus cases in Europe in 2018
- Serbia – 126 cases
- Italy- 123 cases
- Greece – 75 cases
- Hungary – 39 cases
- Romania – 31 cases
The World Health Organisation (WHO) warned of a spike in cases, which has killed three people in Italy over the past few days.
They have also said that the insects began transmitting the infection earlier in the year, with high temperatures and rainy spells, followed by dry weather, most likely encouraging the mosquitoes to breed more.
UK cases are caused by bites abroad
Dr Jolyon Medlock, PHE’s head of medical entomology, told the Daily Mail: "While we have detected this mosquito species in areas around the Thames Estuary, we have not detected the virus itself.
"The few cases of West Nile virus diagnosed in the UK have been due to insect bites abroad and the risk of contracting the infection in this country is low."
PHE also monitors mosquito population around the UK and regularly checks for new species across the country.
It says the deadly-disease carrying insect has not been found outside the south east.
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Who is at higher risk?
Dr Medlock added: "The majority of people infected with West Nile virus do not develop symptoms but those that do will experience a mild, flu like illness and rash lasting up to six days.
"Those over 50 and with underlying health conditions are at higher risk of more severe disease.
"People can avoid insect bites by using insect repellent and wearing tops with long sleeves."
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