West Nile virus reaches the Netherlands

The West Nile virus is suspected in a common whitethroat.
Photo: Shutterstock

In Utrecht province, a common whitethroat was found suspected of carrying the West Nile virus, which causes West Nile Fever in humans. Wageningen Bioveterinary Research (WBVR) will test various animals.

The whitethroat was discovered near the ringing station in Haarzuilens. The West Nile virus is a zoonosis, which means it can be transferred from animals to humans, in this case, by mosquitos. The discovery was made by the Erasmus University in Rotterdam. ‘Unfortunately, there was insufficient material for WBVR to confirm that it is indeed the West Nile virus’, says virologist Wim van der Poel, research manager Emerging and Zoonotic Viruses at Wageningen Bioveterinary Research. ‘We will test samples from other animals in the same region to check how widely the virus has spread in the Netherlands.’

This is the first time the West-Nile virus is found in the Netherlands. Last year and this year it was found in Germany. Most people will not experience any symptoms, and some may get mild flu-like symptoms such as a fever, headache and muscle aches. In a very small portion (1 per cent) the virus causes serious ailments such as meningitis.

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