news 21 Sep 12

West Nile Virus Claims Several Balkan Victims

An outbreak of the virus is reported to have killed half a dozen people in the region so far.

Belgrade, Pristina, Skopje, Zagreb

A woman aged 53 in Skopje, Macedonia, died of the West Nile virus on Friday, the Institute for Public Health in Skopje announced.

She was the sixth fatal victim of the mosquito-borne virus in the Balkans, where several dozen others have been hospitalized in the past month, according to officials in Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia, and Serbia.

On Thursday, a woman aged 50 died from the virus in central Kosovo, the head of Kosovo's Institute for Public Health said.

The victim was hospitalized on September 6 in a critical condition and died on September 14.

Three elderly persons have died of the West Nile virus in Serbia, health officials there said.

Apart from viral encephalitis, the patients had other health complications, Serbia's Tanjug news agency reported on Thursday, adding that all three died last month, but that it "took time to determine through analyses that the cause of death was really viral encephalitis".

Five infections have been reported in Croatia, but no deaths.

The virus, which was discovered in Uganda in 1937, is carried by birds and spread to humans by mosquitoes.

While most infected people show only mild symptoms, or none at all, severe cases involve headaches, high fevers, or even comas and paralysis.

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