Protection still needed against West Nile virus

Whether you are spending time in your backyard, exploring local trails, or vacationing in the area or elsewhere in Ontario, getting bitten by mosquitos puts you at risk of being infected with West Nile virus.

“Although the overall risk of becoming infected with West Nile virus is low, testing on birds and mosquitoes from previous years confirms that the virus is present in the Sudbury and Manitoulin districts,” said Rachel O’Donnell, an environmental support officer with the Sudbury & District Health Unit. “Everyone is at risk of West Nile virus, and preventing bites is important to protect yourself and your family,” said O’Donnell.

Two human cases of West Nile virus have been reported in the Health Unit’s service area: one in 2006 and the second in 2015.

Take simple steps to protect against mosquito bites:

  • Use an insect repellent approved by Health Canada and follow the application recommendations on the package.
  • Stay indoors, if possible, from dusk to dawn when mosquitos are most active.
  • Wear light-coloured clothing, including long sleeves, long pants, socks, and a hat whenever you are outdoors.
  • Check your window and door screens 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 to reduce mosquito breeding areas:

  • bird baths
  • old tires
  • containers, barrels
  • flower pot saucers
  • swimming pool covers, wading pools
  • clogged gutters and eaves troughs
  • clogged drainage ditches
  • small containers like cans or bottle tops
  • unused children’s toys

Symptoms of West Nile virus can range from mild to severe. Most people infected with the virus have no symptoms while some may experience mild symptoms including fever, headache, body aches, mild rash, and swollen lymph glands. In very rare cases the infection can affect the central nervous system and cause serious symptoms including high fever, severe headache, stiff neck, difficulty swallowing, nausea or vomiting, confusion, loss of consciousness, muscle weakness, and paralysis.

The Health Unit will trap mosquitoes again this year to identify the different species that are present in the area and to determine if they are carrying the virus.

For more information and resources about West Nile virus, visit www.sdhu.com or call 705.522.9200, ext. 464 (toll-free at 1.866.522.9200).

This item was last modified on June 21, 2017