//West Nile Virus in Spain in focus
El mosquito - El vector del virus del Nilo Occidental

West Nile Virus in Spain in focus

Currently Spain in addition to the coronavirus crisis is living in a other health emergency. Since August 2020, there has been an outbreak of West Nile Virus.

On August 14, at least 12 cases of meningoencephalitis were detected as a product of this virus.

By that time seven people with severe symptoms of this disease were in intensive care. This disease kills at least 1 in 10% with severe symptoms.

That is why today we will talk about the health crisis that the West Nile virus, how the virus presents itself and its characteristics.

About West Nile Virus

The West Nile virus outbreak in Spain

Epidemiological alert has skyrocketed and new contagions and measures are being spoofed to stop expansion.

For equestrian establishments it is also representing an impact on contagion and casualties. But let’s look a little more at what this virus is about and the situation in Spain.

Gustavo Mirabal is aware about this virus for his connection with Spain.

The situation of the virus in Spain

The situation of the West Nile virus coincides with the regrowth of the coronavirus or Corvid-19. Spain is at the forefront of contagion in Western Europe.

But the West Nile virus is a fairly serious disease and it also advances silently. This is thanks to the asymptomaticity of 80% of the infected.

The end of the mosquito season is approaching, decreasing its incidence. But it still matters because it’s a disease that can get worse. In addition this virus does not have a direct treatment as we will see later.

In this way the authorities have begun to make mass depistages to identify new contagions. They have also strengthened spraying processes to reduce mosquito populations. The mosquito is the main vector of the West Nile virus.

Virus prevention measures
Virus prevention measures

The spread of the virus in Spain and the approach

Its expansion into municipalities bordering the province of Seville has already been detected from this outbreak. These municipalities are Puebla del Río and Coria del Río.

Until October 8th, 75 serious forms of West Nile virus disease had been detected in Spain.

This seems small but since 80% of cases are asymptomatic and another 20% is with mild symptoms we can understand that the numbers of spreads are important.

Let’s move on to see a little more about the virus, its characteristics and treatment.

Update February 2021: Situation of the West Nile virus in Spain

At the beginning of last month researchers from a couple of Spanish universities detected varieties of mosquitoes capable of transmitting West Nile Virus.

The disease caused by this virus is also known as West Nile fever.

Researchers from the universities of Santiago and Viggo detected these vectors at various points in Lugo and Pontevedra. At least two varieties of mosquitoes were found there capable of vectors for West Nile Virus

In Lugo, they found a place where the mosquito nested while five places were found in Pontevedra. They are considered not to pose a health risk to the community.

This is the first time these two varieties of mosquitoes have been detected in the Galician region. These mosquito varieties in turn are able to transmit malaria so the situation has to be monitored.

There is considered to be no health risk as the locations where they were detected. These are found in rural populations and these varieties are of wooded habits with small communities.

In addition, pathogens associated with Malaria and West Nile fever are not found in the region.

However, you don’t lose sight of your control. That is why universities carry out these checks in order to know the location and dimensions of mosquito populations.

This will allow mosquito populations to be monitored if necessary to prevent future outbreaks.

Investigadores de la Universidad de Viggo estudian la expansión del mosquito en la zona
Investigadores de la Universidad de Viggo estudian la expansión del mosquito en la zona

Climate change and its effect on disease

This type of follow-up is key at a time when climate change creates mosquito-friendly temperature and humidity conditions.

We should also consider that the destruction of the natural habitats of animals and insects can lead to their migration. This migration is what is thought to have caused in part the emergence of some diseases that have been transmitted from animals to humans.

Likewise, the invasion of humans into their habitats can cause these vectors to move from their habitats. This could lead them to places where the virus exists and to more populated areas, which would become a health risk.

That is why environmental protection should be considered a health priority. Consider the natural habitats of animals and insects “natural shields” against disease.

Climate change accelerates the expansion of mosquito communities
Climate change accelerates the expansion of mosquito communities

West Nile Virus Typology

Below we will look at several of the characteristics that the virus has and why the risks of its expansion and contagion.

The West Nile virus is from the Flaviviridae family of viruses. Specifically it belongs to the genus Flavivirus virus. Flaviviruses are RNA viruses, symmetrical.

Flavaviruses can be transmitted by Ticks, Mosquitoes or Insects and Arachnids. In the case of this virus its transmitter is the Mosquito.

Given these characteristics, West Nile virus is a family of Zika, dengue and yellow fever.

Of these viruses there are two types or lines. These are affecting the planet as follows:

  • Type 1: It is spread throughout North America, Europe, Asia, Africa (North) and Australia.
  • Type 2: It is causing contagion in southern and central Africa.

We left you a video about the virus. We hope it will help you understand it better:

West Nile virus - causes, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, pathology


Species susceptible to West Nile virus

Among the main species susceptible to West Nile virus are humans and horses.

While birds tend not to be as affected, certain bird families are. In this case crows and magpies tend to have high mortality and serve as an epidemiological alarm.

On the other hand, birds keep the virus for extended periods of time. This makes them a reserve of the virus so they prevent its removal. They also serve to spread it over long distances.

Other animals that are a little susceptible to the virus include:

  • Sheep and goats as farm animals.
  • Dogs and cats as pets.
  • Squirrels, rabbits and skunks like wild animals.

These have no relevance in the epidemiological behavior of the virus.

West Nile virus transfer cycle
West Nile virus transfer cycle

Vectors of the virus

As we indicate, the West Nile virus is transmitted by mosquitoes among the different animals. But a very important carrier of this disease turn out to be birds.

The migratory processes of birds have helped spread the virus throughout the African and European continents.

That is why Spain has been affected by its proximity to Africa. And this is affecting the equestrian and equine industry.

Mosquitoes are able to carry the virus in the extracted blood. In this way when itching a person, infected bird or horse are able to bring the virus to other specimens.

In this way the mosquito causes the disease to be transferred between species.

Other less common forms of transmission include:

  • Exposure to the virus in the laboratory.
  • Blood transfusions.
  • Mother-to-child transfer during pregnancy, childbirth or breastfeeding.

The virus is not air-compressed, saliva macroparticles, contact, or from eating meat from infected animals.

Mosquito - Vector of the West Nile Virus
Mosquito – Vector of the West Nile Virus

The development of West Nile virus in patients

This disease can be severe in cases where it develops symptoms. But the reality is that between 70% and 80% of the infected have no symptoms.

Also the amount of mild symptoms is important.

Approximately 30% to 20% of people have mild symptoms. This is called a febrile disease that includes:

  • Headache
  • Fever
  • Physical pain and especially in joints.
  • Diarrhea and vomiting.
  • All-body rash

These symptoms may occur all or only a few.

Only 1% of those infected with West Nile virus experience severe symptoms. In addition to the above symptoms, patients will experience neurological symptoms including:

  • Disorientation, seizures and tremors.
  • Neck stiffness and paralysis.
  • Inflammation of the brain and/or surrounding tissues may occur.

Statistics indicate that, even with symptomatic treatment, 1 in 10 people with severe symptoms die. So the disease should not be taken lightly.

Recovery among people with severe symptoms can take several weeks and lengthen to months. Sometimes there may be sequelae in patients.

Risk factors in this disease include:

  • Age: People over the age of 60 tend to develop severe symptoms more often.
  • Pre-existing conditions or conditions: Diabetes, cancer, hypertension, kidney problems are factors that increase the patient’s risk.
  • Organ transplants: Transplanted people are also at increased risk of severe forms of the disease.

Treatment for West Nile virus

West Nile virus currently has no specific treatment for the virus.

There are no vaccines to prevent its infection at least in humans. Only there are inactivated virus vaccines that have started to be tested on horses.

There are also no specific antiviral treatments for patients who are already infected.

Treatment is usually symptomatic based on pain relievers to treat pain, fever and some of the mildest symptoms.

In case of severity, hospitalization is available to increase symptomatic treatment. Fluids are also supplied intravenously to prevent dehydration from diarrhoea and vomiting.

Anti-inflammatory drugs are sometimes provided to reduce the effects of brain inflammation and facilitate recovery.

Spain against the virus

Spain is in a great battle against the coronavirus.

It is joined by the fight against the outbreak against the West Nile virus. They’re definitely ready.

November comes to give them a hand to solve the crisis. Undoubtedly the fall of mosquito populations will help mitigate the outbreak.

But beyond that, Spain is preparing to give a stop to the mosquito and the West Nile virus to take care of its people and horses. Spain for the health of yours.