The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) has commenced its seasonal monitoring of human West Nile virus (WNV) infections and of equine outbreaks occurring in the European Union/European Economic Area (EU/EEA) and EU neighbouring countries.
Last year, more than 1,500 cases of WNV were reported in the EU/EEA, and a further 580 cases in neighbouring countries, an increase of more than seven-fold on the previous season. A total of 180 related deaths were reported in Greece, Italy, Romania, Serbia, Kosovo, Turkey, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic and Hungary.
The first cases in the European Union in 2018 were notified by Greece in week 26 (25 June to 1 July), with the earliest disease onset on 31 May (week 22). In EU neighbouring countries, the first case was reported by Serbia with a date of onset from week 24. The last case of the 2018 transmission season in the EU was reported by France at the end of November. So far this year, no human case or equine WNV outbreak has been reported.
Under EU rules, prospective blood donors should be deferred for 28 days after leaving a high-risk area, unless the results of an individual nucleic acid test (NAT) are negative.