An 87-year-old patient has died in the southern city of Cadiz, bringing the country’s death toll from the disease to four, local media report, citing medical officials. The three previous deaths occurred in Seville, which, along with Cadiz, is part of the Andalusia region. All victims were over the age of 70.

The West Nile virus (WNV) was first detected in Spain in 2006. According to The Local news website, while only seven cases were recorded in the country over the last decade, 52 were discovered in the last month alone. In some cases, the patients were hospitalized and placed in intensive care units.

The surge in cases in Spain is believed to be connected to a growth of the mosquito population in the wetlands. Officials in Cadiz have deployed teams to fumigate the areas in an effort to stop the spread of the disease.

First recorded in Uganda in the 1930s, the virus is found in birds and is transmitted to humans and horses through infected mosquitoes. There is no human-to-human transmission. According to the World Health Organization, around 80 percent of infected people show no symptoms, while the rest develop a flu-like illness.

The case mortality rate for patients with severe illnesses was reported to be between three and 15 percent. There is no human vaccine for WNV and no specific treatment other than relieving the symptoms.

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