A 45-year-old woman died in hospital in Dolo after more than three months of suffering caused by the contraction of West Nile virus through a mosquito bite that occurred practically under his home. Her family believes that her death is suspicious, so much so that the Prosecutor’s Office has launched an investigation and performed an autopsy on the woman’s body yesterday. The complications that arose after the first days of hospitalization at the Mirano hospital devastated her health.
A woman dies in Veneto
The mother of two daughters was apparently bitten by a mosquito near her home in via Cavin di Sala in mid-October. Following this sting, she suffered an infection that caused five days of very high fever and hospitalization in the Miranese hospital, where she remained until a few weeks ago. During these months, the viral infection led first to encephalopathy and then to tetraplegia, with paralysis of the limbs and a large part of the body.
In January, she was transferred from the Mirano hospital to an RSA in Stra, but her partner and family believe that her conditions were not compatible with such a structure. After only five days in the RSA, she was again taken to hospital, this time in Dolo, where she arrived in a practically vegetative state and where she later died last Saturday. Prosecutor Giorgio Gava ordered the autopsy, which was performed yesterday.
Before the dramatic evolution of the West Nile infection, the woman enjoyed good health, and the family confirmed that the virus could only have been contracted in the area surrounding their home, as they had not traveled at that time. Although it was an isolated case of West Nile, no disinfestation operation was carried out in the area of via Cavin di Sala at the time. The clean-up operations are activated only in the presence of multiple cases in the same area, and the period in which the infection occurred (second half of October) was considered anomalous due to the presence of mosquitoes, despite the prolonged almost summer conditions.
The health authority provided clarifications on the matter, stating that the patient, given her serious condition, was followed in the various phases of her long journey by the health facilities of Ulss 3. After her death, the hospital ward where she was hospitalized and started a diagnostic test. Ulss 3 Serenissima declared that the healthcare company is available for any further verification regarding the care and assistance provided during the patient’s journey.
How West Nile virus is contracted and symptoms
West Nile virus is mainly transmitted through bite of an infected mosquito, mainly of the Culex genus. Birds constitute the main reservoir of the virus, and mosquitoes become infected by biting birds that are themselves infected. Inside the mosquito’s organism, the virus replicates and localizes in the salivary glands, from where it can be transmitted to another bird during a subsequent bite.
Infected mosquitoes can also occasionally transmit the virus to humans, horses and, in some cases, other animals such as dogs, cats and rabbits. However, West Nile disease does not spread from person to person through contact with an infected individual. In rarer cases, transmission can occur through organ transplants, blood transfusions, and from mother to fetus during pregnancy.
The incubation period of the diseasestarting from the bite of the infected mosquito, varies from 2 to 14 daysbut can extend up to 21 days in people with compromised immune systems.
West Nile disease, caused by the virus transmitted primarily through the bite of infected mosquitoes, can manifest itself in various ways. In most cases, the infection is asymptomatic, but when symptoms appear, they usually consist of fever, headache, nausea, vomiting, swollen lymph nodes, and skin rashes. These symptoms tend to last only a few days, although in rare circumstances they can persist for a few weeks.
Symptoms may differ depending on the age of the affected individual. In children, it often manifests itself as a mild fever, while in young people the fever is on average high and can be accompanied by redness of the eyes, headache and muscle pain. In elderly and frail people, symptoms can be more severe.
Only less than 1% of infected people develop more severe symptoms, which include high fever, severe headache, muscle weakness, disorientation, tremor, visual disturbances, drowsiness, convulsions, paralysis and, in severe cases (about 1 in 1,000), the virus can lead to lethal encephalitis. Some neurological effects may be permanent following the disease.
How to treat West Nile
The diagnosis of the infection uses a lab test carried out on a serum sample for the search for specific IgM (immunoglobulin M) antibodies. In addition to serology, it is possible to highlight the virus using viral RNA amplification methods on serum (or, if indicated, on cerebrospinal fluid).
LWest Nile disease, unfortunately, has no specific therapy and, usually, the symptoms tend to decrease spontaneously over the course of a few days, although in some cases they can persist for a few weeks. In more severe cases of the disease, hospitalization is required to manage and treat complications that may emerge.
Currently, There is no vaccine available to prevent West Nile infection. However, you can take some preventative measures to reduce your risk of contracting the virus. Limiting exposure to mosquito bites is essential, protecting yourself from bites and avoiding conditions that favor mosquito reproduction, such as the presence of stagnant water.
To prevent infection, it is advisable to adopt the following practices:
- Use mosquito repellent and wear long trousers and long-sleeved shirts when outdoors, especially during the hours of dawn and dusk.
- Protect windows with mosquito nets to prevent mosquitoes from entering the house.
- Empty containers such as flower pots or buckets that may accumulate standing water, creating potential breeding sites for mosquitoes.
- Change the water in pet bowls regularly.
- Place paddling pools upright when not in use, avoiding the formation of stagnant water which could attract mosquitoes.
By taking these precautions, you can help limit your risk of becoming infected with West Nile Virus.