Health Unit reports confirmed human case of West Nile virus

The Sudbury & District Health Unit has received laboratory results confirming West Nile virus (WNv) in an adult from the Sudbury East area. This is the third human case in the Health Unit’s service area. The first confirmed case occurred in 2006, and the second was in 2015.

To date through its trapping activities, the Health Unit has not detected any mosquitos carrying the virus within its service area this year. The last time positive mosquitos were detected in the area was in 2013.

“Although reports of human cases are not common locally, we know that West Nile virus is present in the Sudbury and Manitoulin districts because it has been confirmed in birds and in mosquitos in previous years,” said Dr. Penny Sutcliffe, Sudbury & District Medical Officer of Health. “Taking precautions to avoid becoming infected with West Nile virus is important,” added Dr. Sutcliffe.

West Nile virus is spread to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito. Mosquitoes get the virus by feeding on infected birds. The overall risk of becoming infected with West Nile virus is low and roughly 80 per cent of infected people do not show any symptoms. Of the 20 per cent who do have symptoms, most will experience mild illness that can include fever, headache, body ache, nausea, vomiting, and a rash on the chest, stomach or back.

Less than one per cent of infected people will experience serious symptoms including high fever, severe headache, muscle weakness, stiff neck, and confusion.

Late summer is typically the time of greatest risk for contracting West Nile virus. This is when  mosquitoes can carry higher levels of virus, and it is also a time when people might not be as diligent about protecting themselves from mosquito bites. Here are some simple measures you can take to continue to protect yourself and your family:

Reduce risk around the home

· Install or repair screens – Some mosquitoes like to come indoors. Keep them outside by having well-fitting screens on all of your windows and doors.

· Remove standing water from around your home where mosquitoes could lay their eggs.

 Personal precautions

· Wear light-coloured, long-sleeved shirts; long pants; shoes and socks when outside, especially from dusk to dawn, when mosquitoes are most active.

· Use a Health Canada approved insect repellent and be sure to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations.

For more information about West Nile virus, please contact your local office of the Sudbury & District Health Unit or visit