West Nile Virus (WNV) update

The PBMS is pleased to announce that the latest results of testing 83 U.K. bird of prey samples (submitted to the PBMS in 2018 and analysed by the APHA) - all were negative for West Nile virus.

History: WNV was first detected in the West Nile district of Uganda in 1937; the first large outbreak in Europe occurred in Romania in 1996. Cases have been identified in several countries across Europe including France, Italy, Portugal and Spain. 

In 1999 WNV spread to North America. Cases of WNV disease are reported to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) by state and local health departments. Between 1999 and 2016 there were more than 45,000 cases and over 2000 deaths in humans in the U.S.A.(https://www.cdc.gov/westnile/statsmaps/cumMapsData.html#three). 

Risk to the UK: To date, locally acquired WNV infection has not been reported in the U.K. in humans although there have been occasional cases of travel associated infection. In 2010, the mosquito Culex modestus was detected in the UK for the first time since 1944. This mosquito species is the principle bridge vector (responsible for transmission between birds, horses and humans) for WNV in Southern Europe. This finding may increase the risk of WNV being transmitted in the UK, hence the involvement of the PBMS in collecting samples for the APHA.

Symptoms: Most infected people show no symptoms but those who do, suffer a sudden onset of influenza-like illness (fever, headache, myalgia) and sometimes a rash - most infections resolve in 3 to 6 days. Less than 1% of infected individuals develop neuroinvasive disease.

For more information see: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/west-nile-virus and https://www.cdc.gov/

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