Animals checked for virus

Scientists from the General Veterinary Directorate (DGV) are carrying out blood tests on animals in the region of the Algarve where two Irish tourists were contaminated with the West Nile virus recently.

Fernando Bernardo, deputy-director of the DGV, said that a team of specialists has already conducted a survey of birds and horses in a 20-kilometre radius of the location where it is thought the couple was bitten by the infected mosquito.

The transmission of the illness only occurs through mosquitoes and not via human contact. Around 80 per cent of cases do not manifest symptoms of any kind and, if they do, they are usually just mild, flu-like symptoms. Only one per cent of cases develops into a serious or life-threatening illness.

The first known case of the virus was diagnosed in Uganda in 1937. Anyone requiring further information about this illness can call the public health line between 8am and midnight on 808 211 311.