The Berlin virologist Christian Drosten referred to the spread of the West Nile virus in Germany. "The number of mosquitoes that carry the virus seems to be increasing," Drosten told the newspapers of the Funke media group. The mosquitoes are now found in Berlin and in large parts of eastern Germany. In the past few years, there have already been the first cases of illness in Berlin.
There is no reason to panic, said Drosten. However, he recommends looking at the facts. The West Nile virus can cause encephalitis. Studies showed that in newly infected areas, the rate of serious illnesses is one in 1,000 infected people, "but severe courses can lead to permanent disabilities," warned Drosten.
Drosten made it clear that he also attributes the development to climate change. The West Nile virus was introduced via migratory birds from tropical latitudes. "We know that it is now overwintering here, probably because it is no longer cold enough," said the head of the Institute for Virology at the Berlin Charité.
Drosten promised that there might soon be a vaccine against the West Nile virus. "Research is ongoing." Drosten pointed out that there is already a vaccine for a closely related disease: tick-borne encephalitis (TBE).
The West Nile pathogen originally comes from Africa. It was first discovered in 1937 in the West Nile District of Uganda. According to the Friedrich Loeffler Institute, it was first detected in France in the 1960s. It is an endemic zoonosis that occurs in various regions of the world, according to the Robert Koch Institute. The pathogen repeatedly reaches Europe and thus also Germany through migratory birds.
Sources: Friedrich Löffler Institute, Robert Koch Institute, AFP