Significant increase in mosquitoes that can transmit West Nile virus

by Lorraine Williamson
West Nile virus

PROVINCIA DE SEVILLA – In 2020, the West Nile virus killed eight people in Andalucia. “Two years later, it seems that the threat is far from gone and has increased.” Thus, the National Association of Environmental Health Companies warns ANECPLA. 

ANECPLA has asked to be “very alert” to the “significant” increase in the population of the West Nile virus-transmitting mosquito, the ‘Culex’ (genus ‘pipiens’ and ‘perexiguus’). The outbreak in 2020 was unexpected, but thanks to good cooperation between the environmental health sector and the authorities, it was quickly combated. 

The mosquito population has skyrocketed 

“Two years later, it seems that the threat is far from gone, but has increased. The fact is that the mosquito population has increased enormously in recent weeks in the Sevillian districts of La Puebla del Río, Coria and Palomares,” warns ANECPLA. 

Be watchful 

Faced with this situation, they order both the competent authorities and citizens in the area to “stay vigilant”. In addition, they want good cooperation to prevent new cases of West Nile fever from occurring this year. 

According to director Jorge Galván, it is clear that “in a situation like the one caused by the West Nile virus, cooperation between pest control and environmental health experts and the relevant administrations is essential if we are to eliminate the potential and real risks to humans”. 

Last year, ANECPLA already collaborated with the Ministry of Health of the Junta de Andalucía, both in evaluating the country to prevent possible new outbreaks and in training government personnel in the knowledge and skills needed to manage the virus-transmitting virus. mosquitoes. 

Involving citizens in the audit task 

 This year, ANECPLA once again emphasizes the importance of remaining alert to this threat and the importance of involving citizens in the control task. Citizens can assist in identifying and cleaning breeding grounds for all kinds of mosquitoes. In this respect, this mainly concerns places where water remains, standing water, puddles, tanks or other water reservoirs. 

ANECPLA says it will continue to carry out information campaigns for the population. It will also include recommendations for measures to detect household sources. 

West Nile fever 

West Nile fever cannot be transmitted from person to person. Only the bite of the ‘Culex’ mosquito can cause the disease. Therefore, the Association believes that infection prevention measures in humans should focus on avoiding bites. This includes measures such as placing mosquito nets on windows and doors and, as far as possible, avoiding opening through wetlands at dusk or dawn. Wear long sleeves and trousers and use insect repellent as much as possible. 

See also: Andalucian prevention plan against new West Nile virus outbreak 

The virus has so far not been detected in the rest of the Spanish territory – apart from an isolated detection at an equestrian centre in Catalonia. Still, ANECPLA recalls that “it cannot be ruled out that it may circulate in other areas, especially now in the summer when the mosquito is at the peak of its reproductive cycle. 

The West Nile virus does not only reach humans through a mosquito bite but also birds, horses and other mammals. Around 80% of infected individuals have no symptoms, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). The remaining 20% do have symptoms. In the worst cases (1%) encephalitis (inflammation in the central part of the nervous system) or meningitis (meningitis) occurs. According to the Andalucian health ministry, 10% of people who develop these severe symptoms die. 

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