Though often envisioned as an ideal vacation spot, home to thousands of sites, islands and beaches, Greece is not exempt from the list of countries affected by diseases, and it is necessary that travelers be aware of this.
- Coronary Heart Disease
According to WHO, Coronary Heart Disease (CHD) is one of the top diseases in Greece, responsible for 26.17% of the country’s total deaths. Statistically, CHD occurs in men between the ages of 50 to 79, and in women ages 70-79. Controllable factors include arterial hypertension, diabetes, dyslipidemia, obesity, smoking and lack of physical activity. Non-modifiable factors include gender, age and family history of premature CHD.
Falling second in the list of top diseases in Greece, mortality from heart disease and strokes has reached 35,000 deaths per year, which is high compared to other regions like Portugal or Spain. As a result, life expectancy for Greeks has fallen. Statistics showing 33% of adults smoking daily and 19.6% of the population being overweight or obese contribute to the issue.
In 2011, a total of 20 cases of malaria occurred among Greek residents in the Evrotas, Laconia district, caused by the parasite Plasmodium vivax. The following year, 17 additional locally acquired cases were reported. According to the Centers for Disease Control, it is recommended that travelers take an anti-malarial medication and follow insect protection measures to reduce the risk of mosquito bites.
- Legionnaires’ disease
A total of 14 cases of Legionnaires’ disease were reported on the island of Corfu in 2011. Legionnaires’ disease is a bacterial infection that typically causes pneumonia but can also involve other organ systems. The disease is usually transmitted through contaminated water sources, such as air conditioners and showers. Common symptoms include fever, cough, chest pain, difficulty breathing, headache, muscle pains and diarrhea.
- West Nile virus
An outbreak of West Nile virus infections surfaced in 2010, causing 262 confirmed cases and 35 deaths. West Nile virus is carried by Culex mosquitoes. Most infections are mild but can affect the central nervous system, leading to fever, headache, confusion, lethargy, coma and in most serious cases, death. Because there is no treatment for West Nile virus, prevention methods should be taken by keeping cover and applying insect repellents.
For both locals and visitors, such recent outbreaks emphasize the importance of taking safety precautions and preventing further transmission of top diseases in Greece. Since most of these illnesses cannot be cured, undergoing certain treatment methods or making lifestyle changes help with recovery.
– Mikaela Frigillana