The number of proven infections with the West Nile virus among people in Germany has risen to ten this season. This emerges from a database of the Robert Koch Institute (RKI). For eight of those affected, Germany is specified as the country of infection, as an RKI spokeswoman told the German Press Agency. Further details were not initially known. At the end of August, the RKI announced the first human infection acquired in this country this summer.
In 2019, the first infections suspected of being transmitted by mosquitoes became known in people in Germany who had not previously travelled. According to the RKI, transmission between mosquitoes and birds was documented in Germany for the first time in 2018, but the virus, which originally came from Africa, had probably reached Germany a few years earlier. It is assumed that the pathogen can now also hibernate here in mosquitoes. In recent years, it has also been detected in birds and horses, especially in regions of eastern Germany. Horses, like humans, are considered false hosts.
According to the RKI database, the reports so far this season have come from Berlin (3), Saxony (3) and Saxony-Anhalt (3) as well as North Rhine-Westphalia (1). Individual late registrations are still possible, as the RKI said. With ten cases so far, twice as many cases have been documented this year as in the previous season – but fewer than 2020, when 30 cases were known.
Compared to some southern European countries, the number of cases in Germany has so far been relatively manageable: According to data from the EU health authority ECDC, around 950 cases of West Nile fever were recorded in this year’s transmission season – more than 570 in Italy and around 280 in Greece ( as of October 26). 72 deaths were registered.
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According to the RKI, West Nile fever is usually unremarkable. About every fifth infected person develops a flu-like illness with fever. About one in 100 infected people becomes seriously ill. Experts therefore assume that the number of undetected infections is unreported. Older people and/or people with previous illnesses are considered to be at risk for more severe courses. You are advised to protect yourself from bites, especially in season and in affected areas. In a study from 2020, RKI experts stated: “In particular, longer summers with high temperatures could contribute to an extended WNV season and further spatial spread.”
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