August 8, 2007
Mosquitoes caught in a CDC light trap located in Prairie North Health Region have tested positive for West Nile Virus. The positive results were from Culex Tarsalis mosquitoes caught July 25 in Lloydminster. Culex Tarsalis mosquitoes are the ones most likely to carry West Nile Virus in western Canada.
This is the first report of West Nile Virus (WNV) activity in the region for this season. So far this year there have been no human cases in PNHR, but humans have been infected in other parts of Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Alberta.
PNHR Medical Health Officer, Dr. Brenda Cholin, reminds residents and visitors that if you are going to be spending time outdoors in the Region or traveling elsewhere on holidays, you should be taking precautions to protect yourself against mosquito bites and potential exposure to West Nile Virus.
This is the time of greatest Culex Tarsalis mosquito activity. During past years, most people in Saskatchewan who became infected with West Nile Virus did so between the end of July and mid-August.
The public is encouraged to continue to use insect repellent, wear long sleeve shirts and pants when outside, stay indoors at dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active, and reduce standing water on their properties where mosquitoes may breed.
Eighty (80) percent of people who become infected with West Nile Virus have no symptoms. About 19 percent of people will have an illness called West Nile Fever during which they will experience fever and headache, feel tired and achy, and may have a rash. West Nile Fever usually lasts about a week. Less than one percent of people will suffer a more severe illness in which the infection causes swelling and inflammation of the brain with severe headache, neck stiffness, vomiting, muscle weakness, tremors, paralysis and sometimes coma.
Detailed information on West Nile Virus and how to protect yourself and your family is available at Saskatchewan Health and Alberta Health and Wellness websites, or your local public health office.
For more information contact:
Linda Lewis, Communications Officer