Still cases of West Nile in the region: two further cases of West Nile virus positivity were identified among blood donors from Friuli Venezia Giulia. Overall, the cases therefore rise to three: one in the Pordenone area and two in that of Udine. All are in good health and their condition is of no concern as their donations have been identified and blocked. Surveillance measures are also adopted in Friuli Venezia Giulia to prevent the spread of this virus following the guidelines dictated by the Ministry of Health.
Cases doubled in Italy in one week
The attention is particularly high in the summer-autumn season, a period of massive spread of the virus. In areas where the disease is identified in mosquitoes or equidae, a specific test is adopted on all donations of blood and blood components and the donation is temporarily suspended for 28 days for citizens who have stayed in those areas. In 2022, the first reports of positive mosquitoes in the West Nile in Friuli Venezia Giulia occurred in mid-July in San Vito al Tagliamento, San Canzian d’Isonzo and Palazzolo dello Stella. There Central Health Directorate, in harmony with the transfusion network, therefore, as a precaution, immediately inserted the West Nile test for all donors, in order to ensure maximum safety of the transfusion system. In the region, more than 80 thousand units of blood and blood products are donated per year, so a possible positive finding was expected. The three donors who tested positive are doing well, but their donations were immediately blocked, confirming the effectiveness of the safety systems introduced on transfusions in our region. Those affected will undergo confirmation blood tests and will be followed by the transfusion services for four months, then they will be able to resume donating without any limitation.
West Nile, what to do
There is no vaccine for West Nile fever. Currently vaccines are being studied, but for the moment prevention consists mainly in reducing exposure to mosquito bites. Therefore it is advisable to protect yourself from bites and prevent mosquitoes from reproducing easily:
- using repellents and wearing long pants and long-sleeved shirts when outdoors, especially at sunrise and sunset;
- using mosquito nets on the windows;
- frequently emptying flower pots or other containers (e.g. buckets) with standing water;
- frequently changing the water in the bowls for the animals;
- holding the paddling pools for children upright when not in use.
What is West Nile Fever
West Nile fever (West Nile Fever) is a disease caused by the West Nile virus (West Nile Virus, Wnv), a virus of the Flaviviridae family isolated for the first time in 1937 in Uganda, precisely in the West Nile district (from which it takes the name). The virus has spread to Africa, West Asia, Europe, Australia and America.
The reservoirs of the virus are wild birds and mosquitoes (most frequently of the Culex type), whose bites are the main means of transmission to humans. Other documented means of infection, although much rarer, are organ transplants, blood transfusions, and mother-to-fetus transmission in pregnancy. West Nile fever it is not transmitted from person to person through contact with infected people. The virus also infects other mammals, especially horses, but in some cases also dogs, cats, rabbits and others.
West Nile virus, what are the symptoms
The incubation period from the moment of the infected mosquito bite varies between 2 and 14 days, but it can be as long as 21 days in subjects with deficiency in the immune system. Most infected people show no symptoms. Among the symptomatic cases, about 20% have mild symptoms: fever, headache, nausea, vomiting, swollen lymph nodes, skin rashes. These symptoms they can last a few days, in rare cases a few weeks, and can vary greatly depending on the age of the person. In children a mild fever is more frequent, in young people the symptoms are characterized by medium-high fever, redness of the eyes, headache and muscle aches. In the elderly and in debilitated people, however, the symptoms can be more severe. The most severe symptoms occur on average in less than 1% of infected people (1 in 150 people), and include high fever, severe headaches, muscle weakness, disorientation, tremors, visual disturbances, numbness, seizures, up to to paralysis and coma. Some neurological effects they can be permanent. In severe cases (about 1 in a thousand) the virus can cause lethal encephalitis.