A YOUNG man is in intensive care in a Spanish hospital as the country’s first confirmed case this year of a deadly virus spread by mosquitoes.
Health chiefs confirmed the return of West Nile Virus in southern Spain, which caused seven deaths last year.
The patient, whose age has not been revealed although he has been described as a young man, is in the intensive care unit of Seville’s Virgen del Rocio Hospital and is said to be suffering an inflammation of the brain and its surrounding protective membranes called Meningoencephalitis.
Confirmation he had West Nile Virus followed protocol tests to determine the “unknown origin” of his brain swelling.
Local reports said he had also tested positive for coronavirus.
Health experts have expressed surprise and concern at the appearance of West Nile Virus in the region before the start of summer.
An outbreak last year centred around the wetlands of the Guadalquivir River in the municipalities of Coria and La Puebla del Rio near Seville, began at the start of August.
It went on to become the worst on record in Spain’s southern Andalucia region, which includes popular Brit holiday areas like the Costa del Sol and is the most populated of the country’s regions with nearly nine million inhabitants.
Seventy-one cases were recorded in Andalucia, 57 in the province of Seville and 14 in neighbouring Cadiz.
Four of the people who died, three men and a woman aged between 70 and 85, lived in Seville.
Regional governors ended up fumigating the worst-affected areas with drones to eradicate the problem.
West Nile virus, spread by the Culex mosquito, first reached Spain in 2004 with horses being most affected.
Elderly people and those with underlying health conditions like diabetes and cancer are most at risk from the virus, but it can cause meningitis in children.
Wetlands and swimming pools in countryside areas have been identified as the places where the mosquitoes carrying the virus are most likely to be found.
Pablo Barreiro, an expert in infectious diseases, told Spanish press at the start of last year’s outbreak the killer virus could pose the next health risk for British holidaymakers by spreading across the country in the future.
He said at the time: “Only about two to five per cent of the cases present symptoms.
“It’s an illness that can go unnoticed very easily.”
Meanwhile, the UK is “dealing with” an outbreak of monkeypox, health secretary Matt Hancock has revealed.
The Sun has was told there are two cases in North Wales.
The first case caught the virus abroad before passing it onto someone in the same house.
They were admitted to a hospital in England, where one remains.
Both are being monitored by Public Health Wales and Public Health England.
The cases would be only the fifth and sixth cases ever recorded in the UK.
Also this month, China confirmed the world’s first human case of the H10N3 bird flu.
A 41-year-old man, from the eastern city of Zhenjiang, developed a fever and other symptoms and was hospitalised on April 28, according to China’s National Health Commission.
Concerns have also been voiced that the dreaded Spanish Flu, which killed around 50 million people around the globe, could be the cause of the next pandemic, one of the WHO’s leading experts on influenza has warned.
Dr John McCauley, a leading member of the WHO Global Influenza Surveillance and Response System, also told The Sun Online that changes to the regular flu virus could make it much more fatal amid the Covid-19 pandemic.