The public health department in Catalonia has detected one confirmed case and one possible case of West Nile virus in Tarragona province, news agency EFE reported. Both of the patients are said to be doing well.
A 90-year-old man from Reus has been confirmed to have the virus and his wife, 85, is the suspected case. This is the first time the virus, which is transmitted via mosquitos, has been detected in the Catalonia region, according to Spanish daily El País.
The patients have not travelled abroad in recent days, prompting health experts to conclude that the virus was transmitted by a mosquito on Spanish soil. The local council in Reus announced on Friday that it would be carrying out a disinfection process in the city, in particular humid areas where mosquitoes gather.
The West Nile virus has a death rate of 0.1% among those infected, while it can also cause meningoencephalitis – an inflammation of the meninges and the brain – among a further 1%. For 20% of those infected, however, it merely causes a controllable fever. The over-50s usually suffer from the worst symptoms.
In 2020, eight people died in Andalusia after being infected with the virus, while 71 people in total were confirmed to have contracted it. A further six people were infected with the virus in other parts of Spain, according to comments made in Spanish media by José Miguel Cisneros, an infectious diseases expert in Seville. Last summer there were just six infections detected in Spain and one death.
At the time of the 2020 outbreak in Andalucía, the health department issued recommendations that people should use repellents and nets, cover their skin, avoid going out at dawn or dusk, keep lights switched off and avoid strong fragrances such as perfumes.