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West Nile virus kills 14 in Greece

By the CNN Wire Staff
  • An additional 142 people also have become sick with the virus
  • 32 people are hospitalized, eight in intensive care
  • The virus is most commonly spread by infected mosquitoes
  • Greece
  • West Nile Virus

(CNN) -- West Nile Virus has killed 14 people in northern Greece and sickened 142, the Hellenic Centre for Disease Control and Prevention reported Thursday.

As of Wednesday, the health agency said, 32 people remained hospitalized, eight of them in intensive care.

West Nile Virus is usually transmitted by infected mosquitoes or blood transfusions. Severe symptoms can include high fever, headache, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, vision loss, numbness and paralysis.

About 80 percent of people infected with the virus show no symptoms, health officials say.

Authorities in central Macedonia, in northern Greece where most cases have been reported, said they would step up spraying programs in an attempt to ward off mosquitoes.

Authorities also said they are taking steps to prevent transmission by blood transfusions. Blood donations in regions at high risk for West Nile Virus have been canceled and people leaving the area are encouraged not to donate blood for up to 28 days.

Sporadic cases of the disease have been found throughout Europe since the 1960s.