Health Ministry Warns About Greek Mosquitoes

The Health Ministry has issued a warning to travelers to beware the Greek mosquitoes that may be carrying the West Nile virus.

Chana Ya'ar,

Mosquito (illustrative only)
Mosquito (illustrative only)
Israel news photo: Anders Bjurnemark

The last gasp of summer may for some travelers become the first slap of autumn, warns Israel's Health Ministry.

Israelis who are taking those last-minute trips to Greece just before the start of the fall season are being told to specifically avoid areas of mosquito infestation.

The alert warned that several travelers to Greece in recent weeks have been stung by mosquitoes carrying the West Nile virus.

The ministry is warning travelers to wear long-sleeved shirts and slacks and to make sure to use mosquito repellent containing DEET.

West Nile virus, first identified in 1937 in Uganda, was spotted for the first time in the U.S. in New York in the summer of 1999. Mosquitoes carry the highest amount of the virus from late August to early September.

West Nile virus may also be spread through blood transfusions and organ transplants, as well as through milk from a nursing mother to an infant.

Mild forms of the disease generally cause symptoms that include abdominal pain, diarrhea, fever, headache, lack of appetite, muscle aches, nausea, rash, sore throat, swollen lymph nodes and/or vomiting. The symptoms can last for three to six days.

A more severe form of the disease, called West Nile encephalitis or West Nile meningitis, can be sometimes be fatal.