Mosquitoes in St. Catharines have tested positive for West Nile Virus, reports Niagara Region Public Health.
The health unit said the West Nile virus was detected in mosquitoes for the first time in 2020. However, there are currently no human cases of the virus reported at this time.
West Nile Virus (WNV) is the leading mosquito-borne disease in the continental United States. It is most commonly spread to people by the bite of an infected mosquito. Cases of WNV occur during mosquito season, which starts in the summer and continues into fall. There are no vaccines that prevent or medications that can treat the virus in humans. Most people who are infected with West Nile virus do not feel sick.
In Canada, the first human case of West Nile Virus was reported in Ontario in 2002. In 2019, 37 cases were reported in Canada.
1 in 150 may get seriously ill from West Nile Virus
The virus is a concern because about 20 per cent of those infected develop a fever. Other symptoms may include headache, body aches, joint pains, vomiting, diarrhea, or rash. About 1 in 150 who get infected develop a serious illness that can be fatal.
Even though the WNV-positive mosquitoes were only found so far in St. Catharines, Niagara health officials are urging all region residents to take precautions to reduce the chances of being exposed to the insect-borne virus.
Here are some tips to help keep mosquitoes away:
- Use mosquito repellant where possible. They can include sprays, citronella candles, essential oils, and the like. Products containing DEET or Icardin are the most effective. Icardin, also known as picaridin, is an odorless insect repellent that can be used directly on skin or clothing.
- Wear clothes that limit the amount of exposed skin when outdoors (ex. long-sleeves, pants, socks).
- Minimize the use of perfumes when spending time outdoors, as mosquitoes are attracted to some scents found in perfumes.
- Avoid (or remove) nearby water sources. These include birdbaths, cans, pools, and the like. Mosquitoes lay eggs in standing or slow-moving water.
- Ensure that window and door screens in your home are in good shape and have no holes. Broken or damaged bug screens can let mosquitoes enter a building.
- Keep your porch lights off, if possible because light attracts mosquitoes and other bugs.
To learn more about West Nile Virus, call 905-688-8248 ext. 7590 or 1-888-505-6074. Updates for WNV can be found on the Niagara Region website.
West Nile Virus on Wikipedia
West Nile Virus Stats (Canada)
CDC page on West Nile Virus (USA)
Bug repellant on Amazon.ca that contain Icardin or DEET