Reduce Your Risk of West Nile Virus

GOVTSaskatchewan residents are advised to take steps to lower their chance of contracting West Nile virus infection this summer.

Typically, the Culex tarsalis mosquitoes that carry West Nile virus are active from mid-July to the end of August.  The level of risk depends largely on the weather.

Most people who get infected with West Nile virus will experience no symptoms, or only mild ones like fever, headaches and body aches.  However, there is a small chance of developing a more serious illness, West Nile virus neuroinvasive disease.  This can lead to inflammation of the brain and even death.

“If you’re bitten by a mosquito with West Nile virus, you’ll likely experience no symptoms or mild illness that resolves on its own,” Saskatchewan’s Deputy Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Denise Werker said.  “However, there is still a small risk of serious neurological illness.  That’s why you should seek medical help immediately if you develop serious symptoms like a persistent fever, confusion, neck stiffness, or an unusually severe headache.”

Since 2003, there have been 157 severe neurological cases and 17 deaths in Saskatchewan.

“Part of enjoying our beautiful Saskatchewan summers means taking precautions against mosquitoes that might carry West Nile virus,” Provincial West Nile Virus Co-ordinator Phil Curry said.

Minimize your exposure to mosquito bites:

  • Use appropriate insect repellent when outdoors;
  • Cover up.  Wear light coloured, loose fitting, long-sleeved tops and long pants when outdoors; and
  • Reduce the amount of time spent outdoors between dusk and dawn.  The peak mosquito hours are around dusk and dawn, but Culex mosquitoes will also bite during the night.

Reduce mosquito habitats:

  • Culex mosquitoes lay their eggs on standing water.  Even small amounts of water, allowed to stand for a week or more, may produce adult mosquitoes;
  • Regularly clean and empty containers that can collect water such as bird baths and eavestroughs;
  • Clear yards of old tires and other items that can collect water;
  • Ensure rain barrels are covered with mosquito screening or are tightly sealed around the downspout;
  • Maintain door and window screens so they fit tightly and are free of holes.

More information about West Nile Virus, including surveillance reports updated weekly, can be found at http://www.saskatchewan.ca/residents/health/diseases-and-conditions/west-nile-virus.

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