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Home Eurosurveillance Weekly Release  2003: Volume 7/ Issue 43 Article 2
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Eurosurveillance, Volume 7, Issue 43, 23 October 2003

Citation style for this article: Investigations in Spain following human West Nile virus infections in France. Euro Surveill. 2003;7(43):pii=2313. Available online:

Investigations in Spain following human West Nile virus infections in France

Antonio Tenorio and Fernando Simón (, Instituto de Salud Carlos III, Madrid, Spain

The Institut de Veille Sanitaire in France contacted the Spanish authorities on 7 October 2003 regarding the first probable case of West Nile fever in France. The patient spent half of the incubation period (15 days) in the south of France and half near to Alicante, Spain.

The health authorities in the area of Alicante have not, to date, detected any increase in meningo-encephalitis in 2003.

West Nile virus (WNV) activity was last detected in Spain between the 1960s and the 1980s in the regions of Catalunya, Andalucía, Valencia, and Galicia (1). Following the outbreak of WNV in horses in France in the year 2000, a research network for arthropod- and rodent-transmitted viral diseases was established in Spain in 2001. Ongoing research and surveillance projects carried out in different regions have not detected any WNV activity in the areas studied. These studies include testing of human sera, sera from migrating birds, and pools of mosquitoes for West Nile virus and other flaviviruses.

Following the notification of a probable case in France, specific investigations have been initiated in Spain, including:

Active search and detection of meningo-encephalitis of unknown origin in the area of Alicante;
Systematic testing for WNV in sera from the area archived at the national reference centre during the past few months;
Active search of possible changes in animal health;
An entomological study and a seroprevalence study in migrating birds in the area are under discussion.

The initial results of polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests on sera from the area archived at the national reference centre during the past few months are negative for WNV. Results of serological studies will be available soon.

In conclusion, there is no evidence at this point of any cases of WNV in Spain, nor is there any proof that WNV is circulating in this country. Nevertheless, a proactive system has been implemented to ensure that appropriate surveillance procedures are being carried out.

  1. Lozano A, Filipe AR. Anticuerpos a virus West Nile y otros flavivirus transmitidos por artropodos en la población del Delta del Ebro. [Antibodies combating West Nile virus and other arthropod-borne viruses among the inhabitants of the Ebro Delta]. Rev Esp Salud Pública 1998; 72: 245-50. [Abstract available in English] (

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