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Rubbish and mosquitoes

Greece rubbish bins

Rubbish and mosquitoes hit tourists.

Council cutbacks and repeated strikes are starting to take their toll on holiday visitors to the Greek islands. It's not just cancelled ferries and the lack of buses that's causing problems. Rubbish and mosquitoes are running rampant. Greece is not known for cleaning up rubbish quickly but strikes by binmen have left bins and skips overflowing with rubbish and stinking to high heaven.

And government cutbacks in annual spraying programmes designed to curb mosquitoes has seen a sharp rise in populations this year.

Experts warn that mosquito numbers have run wild in some parts of Greece over the past three breeding seasons.

Last year there were outbreaks of the deadly West Nile virus in Thessaloniki, Halkidiki, Kavala, Evis, Pelia and Imathia.

More worryingly there was first time evidence of the virus, which is spread by mosquitoes, on the popular Greek holiday islands of Corfu, Lefkas and Samos.

These islands are now in a state of red alert in a bid to reduce risk of the disease spreading.

Most people are immune to the West Nile virus but when symptoms do occur they can be severe and range from fever, headaches, fatigue, muscle pain, nausea and vomiting to, in a small number of cases, neurological disease.

Old people, babies and those taking immunosupressive drugs are the most susceptible. It's not what holidaymakers want to hear when planning their annual holidays.

The Greek holiday island of Mykonos has one of the hardest hit by striking binmen and piles of rubbish and overloaded bins.

The mayor of Mykonos, Irini Grypari, says about 80 tons of rubbish needs to be collected but there are not enough trucks to dispose of the waste and there is a shortage of manpower.

He said: "We will do everything to clear the island but the case has turned very difficult. "

The island has advertised for around 40 seasonal workers to help clear the backlog but cannot find the staff. The authorities also plan to rent and extra six garbage trucks.

The landfill site on Mykonos is rated among the worst on the Greek islands and doesn't yet meet minimum European standards.

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