The National Institute of Public Health has announced that there is no West Nile virus in Kosovo, but has called for caution against mosquito bites.

In the press release, it is stated that the West Nile virus, which has already appeared in the Balkans, has made the experts of the IKSHPK increase their readiness to prevent the occurrence of the disease.

"There are still no reported cases in Kosovo, but given the danger and possibility of the spread of the West Nile virus, we are observing the epidemiological situation in our country but also in neighboring countries", it is further said.

  • West Nile virus can cause fatal neurological disease in humans

  • However, approximately 80% of people who are infected do not show any symptoms.

  • West Nile virus is transmitted to humans mainly through mosquito bites

  • The virus can cause severe illness and death in horses.

  • Vaccines for use in horses are available for use but not yet available for use in humans.

  • Birds are natural carriers of West Nile virus.

VNP can cause neurological disease and death in humans.

VNP is usually found in Africa, Europe, the Middle East, North America and Western Asia, but cases are also reported in the Balkans and the Mediterranean.

VNP is maintained in nature through a cycle that includes transmission between birds and mosquitoes.

Humans, horses and other mammals can become infected.

Infection in humans is primarily the result of bites from infected mosquitoes.

Mosquitoes become infected by feeding on the blood of infected birds, which circulate the virus in their blood for several days.

The virus eventually enters the mosquito's salivary glands.

During subsequent blood consumption (when mosquitoes bite), the virus can be injected into humans and animals, from where it multiplies and can cause disease.

The virus can also be transmitted through contact with other infected animals, through blood or other tissues.

A very small percentage of infections in humans have occurred through organ transplants, blood transfusions, and breast milk.

Only one case of transmission of the NP virus from mother to child via the transplacental route has been recorded.

To date, there have been no documented cases of human-to-human transmission of VNP through casual contact, and no cases of transmission of the virus to health care workers when standard infection control precautions are in place have been reported.

Signs and symptoms

Infection with VNP can be asymptomatic (no symptoms) in about 80% of infected people, or it can lead to West Nile fever or severe West Nile disease.

West Nile fever develops in about 20% of people infected with VNP.

Symptoms include fever, headache, fatigue and body aches, nausea, vomiting, sometimes skin rash and swollen lymph nodes.

Symptoms of severe disease (also called neuro-invasive disease, such as West Nile encephalitis or West Nile poliomyelitis) include: headache, fever, stiff neck, numbness, disorientation, coma, tremors, seizures, muscle weakness, and paralysis.

It is estimated that about 1 in 150 people infected with VNP will develop a more severe form of the disease.

Serious illness can occur in people of any age, but people over the age of 50 and immunocompromised people (eg, transplant patients) are at high risk of becoming seriously ill after contracting VNP.

Incubation period of 3 to 14 days.


VNP can be diagnosed by a number of different tests.

  • IgG antibodies (or significant increase in antibody titer) in two consecutive samples collected one week apart – ELISA

  • Capture of IgM antibodies by ELISA

  • Neutralization tests

  • Viral detection through RT-PCR

  • Virus isolation in cell cultures.

IgM can also be detected in cerebrospinal fluid and samples taken from an infected patient or from a patient with clinical signs.


Vectors and carrier animals

VN virus in nature stays in the mosquito-bird-mosquito transmission circle.

Culex species of mosquitoes are considered the main vector of VNP disease, especially Cx.


VNP is maintained in mosquito communities with vertical transmission (adults to eggs).

The birds are reserved VNP carriers.

In Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia, mortality in birds related to VNP is rare.

Members of the raven family (corvidae) are particularly susceptible, but the virus has also been found in about 250 different species of dead birds.

Birds can become infected through many routes other than mosquito bites, and different species may have different potentials for sustaining the transmission cycle.

Horses, like humans, are last hosts, ie.

once infected, they do not spread the disease.

Symptomatic infections in horses are also rare and mild, but can cause neurological disease, including fatal encephalomyelitis.


Since outbreaks of VNP epidemics occur before human cases, establishing an active animal health surveillance to detect new cases is essential in providing early warning to veterinary authorities and human health services.

Reducing the risk of infection in humans

In the absence of a vaccine, the only way to reduce infection in humans is through awareness and education of the population about measures they can take to reduce the risk of exposure to the virus.

Educational orders should focus on the following:

  • Reducing the risk of transmission through mosquitoes.

  • Efforts to prevent transmission should first focus on personal and community protection against mosquito bites by using nets, repellents, light clothing with long sleeves, and avoiding outdoor activities at the time of the bite.

  • Reducing the risk of transmission from animals to humans.

    Gloves and other tools should be used when handling sick animals or their tissues, as well as during slaughter.

  • Reducing the risk of transmission through blood transfusion and organ transplantation.

    Restrictions and laboratory tests during organ and blood donation should be considered during the outbreak of the epidemic in the affected areas after examining the local/regional epidemiological situation.

Vector control

Effective prevention of human infections depends on the development of comprehensive and integrated mosquito surveillance and control programs in areas where the virus occurs.

Infection prevention in health services

Healthcare workers who care for patients with suspected or confirmed VNP infection, or who work with samples from them, should apply standard infection control precautions.

Specimens obtained from humans or animals suspected of having VNP infection should be handled by trained staff and in fully equipped laboratories.

The laboratories of the National Institute are ready to diagnose any clinically suspicious cases in VNP.