It is a rare and little known disease, but which circulates well in Europe and in France. “Most often asymptomatic but potentially serious”, according to Public Health France, le virus du Nil Occidental (West Nile Virus in English) is mainly transmitted by mosquitoes. It therefore circulates mainly in summer and is regularly detected around the Mediterranean: Spain, Italy, France, Maghreb…
“If 80% of infected people remain asymptomatic or slightly symptomatic, the West Nile virus can cause neurological damage (meningitis, encephalitis and meningoencephalitis) which make it serious”, explains Public Health France which specifies that “serious forms of the disease occur in less than 1 infected person in 100”.
There is no treatment for this virus. We then treat the symptoms, which are similar to those of the flu. “The incubation period typically lasts from 2 to 6 days but can extend up to 14 days”, specifies the ministry of health.
How to protect yourself?
While cases are rather rare, a West Nile virus-related death in Spain last summer prompted authorities to be vigilant this year. Catalonia has in particular set up a vigilance protocolrelate The Independent website. As the disease, usually asymptomatic, is transmitted through blood, a waiting period 28 days is required to donate blood if you are returning from certain Mediterranean regions.
This is what indicates official blood donation website. This is the case of Andalusia and Extremadura in Spain, certain Italian regions such as Emilia-Romagna or the Kabylia region in Algeria for example. To protect against the virus, Public Health France recalls the protective measures against mosquitoes : “covering clothes, repellents, coils, electric diffusers, mosquito nets”.