West Nile virus outbreak kills two in southern Spain

MADRID (Reuters) - The death toll in an outbreak of West Nile virus in the southern Spanish region of Andalusia has risen to two, after an 85-year old woman died in hospital, the regional health service said on Friday.

Twenty-five people in Seville province have tested positive for West Nile fever - the disease caused by the virus - with 23 admitted to hospital and seven in intensive care, the authorities said.

Transmitted mainly through mosquito bites, the virus can lead to a fatal neurological disease, although around 80% of people who are infected never develop symptoms, according to the World Health Organization.

There is no vaccine for the virus in humans although one exists for horses. Originally from Africa, the virus has spread in Europe, Asia and North America.

As of Wednesday some 66 cases of the virus had been confirmed in European Union states this summer, according to data from European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. This tally did not yet include all the Spanish cases.

With 39 cases and six deaths, Greece has borne the brunt of the outbreak so far. Cases have also been diagnosed in Italy and Romania.

The transmission season usually extends from early summer to late autumn.

Spain is already grappling with a sharp resurgence of the coronavirus, diagnosing nearly 67,000 cases in the past 14 days.

Reporting by Nathan Allen; Editing by Inti Landauro and Frances Kerry