They may buzz and bother, but the potential for being infected with West Nile virus (WNV) from a mosquito remains an important reason to avoid being bitten. Everyone is at risk and precautions are needed to protect yourself and your family from WNV.
The Sudbury & District Health Unit (SDHU) sets traps to identify the presence of mosquito species that are capable of spreading WNV and to determine if they are carrying the virus. The Health Unit uses this information to estimate the risk of transmission of the WNV to humans. The SDHU will begin trapping mosquitoes in June for the 2015 surveillance season.
In Ontario WNV has been found in birds, mosquitoes, horses, and humans. Last year there were over 10 confirmed human cases of WNV in Ontario. The SDHU reported its first and only case of human WNV in 2006.
West Nile virus normally causes only mild illness in humans. Severe complications, including meningitis and encephalitis, are also possible, particularly in people over 50 years of age, and among those who have weakened immune systems.
Whether you are in your backyard, exploring local trails, or vacationing, it’s important to protect yourself and your family from mosquito bites. Here’s how:
- Use an insect repellent approved by Health Canada and follow the application recommendations on the package.
- If possible, stay indoors from dusk to dawn when mosquitoes are most active.
- Wear light-coloured clothing, including long sleeves, long pants, socks, and a hat whenever you are outdoors.
- Check all window and door screens in your home to ensure that there are no tears or holes for mosquitoes to get through.
Mosquitoes need only a small amount of calm, standing water to lay their eggs and for larvae to hatch. Change or remove standing water once a week from the following areas that can hold water:
- bird baths
- old tires
- containers, barrels
- flower pot saucers
- swimming pool covers, wading pools
- clogged gutters, eavestroughs
- unused children’s toys
For information about West Nile virus, visit www.sdhu.com or call 705.522.9200, toll-free 1.866.522.9200.