Holidaymakers who are heading to Greece this summer are being warned to take precautions against a mosquito-borne disease which infected 316 people last year and killed 50, a record.
The Foreign Office has already issued advice to tourists about West Nile virus, saying: "There were more than 300 cases ... in Greece in 2018. You should consider preventative measures to minimise exposure to mosquitoes, for example using mosquito repellent when outdoors and closing doors or windows or using screens."
The virus is transmitted by the insects after they have fed on the blood of infected wild birds, and causes headaches and fevers. In some cases it can be fatal.
"There have been enough cases to know that this is now a public health issue," public health official Danai Pervanidou told The Guardian.
"The virus has established itself in Greece through migratory birds and we are recommending that everyone takes personal protective measures such as wearing long sleeves, avoiding places with stagnant water and using mosquito nets and repellent."
Popular holiday destinations for Britons
Popular holiday destinations for Britons
Acropolis of Athens at sunset with a beautiful dramatic sky
Beautiful sunset of Hydra island, Greece - top view of city center and yaht marina.
The beautiful town of Oia with the famous windmills during sunset, captured in July 2018 on Santorini, Greece.
Path to San Juan de Gaztelugatxe, Basque Country, Spain
Ceramic balustrade, Seville, Andalusia, Spain
Sunset over city, Madrid, Spain
bird´s eye view
Italy, Tuscany, San Quirico D'Orcia, Podere Belvedere, Green hills, olive gardens and small vineyard under rays of morning sun
To get to the viewpoint of Villefranche Sur Mer tines you leave from Villefranche Sur Mer by the Basse Corniche road to Jean Cap Ferrat. Passing one of the curves you will see a bus stop (Madone Noire) where you can stop the car and enjoy stunning views of the village and Jean Cap Ferrat.
Arch of Constantine with the Colosseum in the background at sunrise, Rome, Lazio, Italy
Verdon Gorge, Cote D'Azur, France.
Amphitheatre of Rome illuminated
Aerial view of beach near Lumio, Corsica, France
The beautiful seaside town of St. Ives in Cornwall, England, at dawn
Durdle Door, Dorset in UK, Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site
St Michael's Mount, Marazion, Cornwall, UK. August 20, 2014. Image shows the island abbey of St Michael's Mount in Cornwall, UK. The image is set at sunset, with thin wispy clouds scattering the sky. The image is split with the reflection of the abbey and sky in the sea. The empty causeway leading the way across to the mount.
Old town and harbor of Dubrovnik Croatia
Photo Taken In Rovinj, Croatia
Top view of Islet of Vila Franca do Campo is formed by the crater of an old underwater volcano near San Miguel island, Azores, Portugal. Bird eye view, aerial panoramic view.
This image shows the view on the old city of Porto in Portugal during sunset
Portugal, Lisbon, Bairro Alto, Elevador da Gloria, yellow cable railways
Mediterranean beach scenery,Fethiye,Turkey.
Amazing aerial view of Blue Lagoon in Oludeniz, Turkey. Summer landscape with sea spit, boats and yachts, green trees, azure water, sandy beach in sunny day. Travel. Top view of national park. Nature
the suoer moon rise over Hagia Sophia Chruch near Blue mosque in istanbul Turkey
Faro Castillo del Morro is a lighthouse located in Havana, Cuba. It was built in 1845 on the ramparts of the Castillo de los Tres Reyes Magos del Morro, an old fortress guarding the harbor of Havana.
new york city brooklyn bridge sunrise
Iconic Manhattan skyline , New York City
Jacksonville, Florida, USA downtown skyline at dusk over St. Johns River.
Singapore - May 2, 2018: Universal Studios world globe in green light, with tourists visiting this Hollywood movie theme park in Sentosa island.
Discover More Like This
BACK TO SLIDE
Almost 2.4 million Britons visit Greece every year, making the UK the third highest provider of tourists after Macedonia and Germany.
Tourism makes up a quarter of the country's gross domestic product and numbers of visitors topped 30 million last year. The government is keen to curb the spread of the virus from rural areas to tourism hotspots.
"It is impossible to predict the area of virus circulation because of its complex epidemiology but what we do know is that it has moved from villages and wetlands in rural areas to big urban centres, including the Attica region [around Athens] and Thessaloniki," Pervanidou told the Guardian.
"Just as in winter when we expect an outbreak of influenza, in summer we now have to expect cases of West Nile fever. We have to be prepared."
There have also been increases in reporting of the disease in other Mediterranean countries, including Italy, Cyprus, Romania and Serbia.