A warbler in the Utrecht region has tested positive for the West Nile virus. It is the first time that this virus has been found in the Netherlands, the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) reports Wednesday.
The West Nile virus mainly occurs in birds and is transmitted by mosquitoes. However, the virus can also be transmitted to humans or mammals such as horses. Like the coronavirus, the West Nile virus is a zoonosis, a virus that can be transmitted from animals to humans.
The warbler was caught and tested in late August as part of an investigation into a warning system to signal the introduction of exotic viruses as early as possible. So far this year, more than a thousand wild birds have been tested.
The warbler is the first bird in the Netherlands to test positive for the West Nile virus. In previous years, researchers did find antibodies in several birds in our country. This means that the birds have been infected before.
Warblers come to the Netherlands to breed from April. They will return to Africa around this time.
West Nile virus does not usually make people sick
People can become infected with the West Nile virus through infected mosquitoes. Those mosquitoes have in turn become infected because they feed on infected birds.
People who contract West Nile virus usually do not get sick. About 80 percent receive no complaints at all, according to the RIVM. The rest will have to deal with mild symptoms, such as fever and flu-like complaints.
The West Nile virus originates in Africa. However, in recent decades, the virus has spread to large parts of the world. In the late 1950s, the virus appeared in Albania and with it for the first time in Europe. However, this led to few outbreaks.
This century, outbreaks are increasingly common. For example, the virus emerged in large parts of Italy, Eastern Europe and the United States. According to the RIVM, the increase is probably related to the combination of very high temperatures and the presence of many mosquitoes and birds.