West Nile virus kills four in Balkans, dozens in hospital

Reuters News
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Posted: Sep 20, 2012 10:37 AM
West Nile virus kills four in Balkans, dozens in hospital

PRISTINA (Reuters) - At least four people in the Balkans have died from West Nile virus and several dozen others have been hospitalized in the past four weeks, according to health authorities in Serbia, Kosovo and Croatia.

West Nile virus is a mosquito-borne disease usually found in temperate and tropical regions. While many cases are mild and have no symptoms, severe disease symptoms can include headaches, high fever, neck stiffness, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness and paralysis.

Kosovo confirmed its first fatality on Wednesday, saying the victim was a woman from central Kosovo who died on Sept 14.

A spokesman for the Kosovo Health Ministry told Reuters on Thursday two other people who died recently were also suspected of having the same virus, although the cases had not been confirmed with laboratory blood tests.

The United States is currently experiencing one of its worst outbreaks of West Nile virus since 2003.

In Serbia, three people have died and 35 were hospitalized since mid-August.

All the infected people were older than 50 and had other chronic diseases, it said. Serbia's western neighbor Croatia has registered five probable cases of the virus but no deaths.

(Reporting by Fatos Bytyci in Kosovo, Aleksandar Vasovic in Serbia; Zoran Radosavljevic in Croatia)