Bid to ward off West Nile virus

Piraeus and Marathon Tuesday became the latest areas to say they will spray chemicals to deter mosquitoes, as the number of Greeks who have contracted the potentially fatal West Nile Virus from the insects rose to 17.

?There is no need for panic,? said Piraeus Mayor Vassilis Michaloliakos. ?Prevention is the best way to confront this.? His municipality will wash all dumpsters, trim greenery and to spray chemicals around drains in a bid to reduce the number of mosquitoes.

Unlike last year, when 37 Greeks died after contracting the disease, the virus has not just been detected in the north. Two cases have been reported in northeastern Attica. West Nile virus, which can cause encephalitis, was discovered in 1937 in Uganda. Sporadic cases of the disease in humans have occurred in Europe since the 1960s.

Sotiris Tsiodras of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (KEELPNO) underlined that less than 1 percent of those who contract the virus fall seriously ill.