It’s the peak season for West Nile in Saskatchewan, and residents are being reminded to protect themselves against mosquito bites, as the main carrier of the disease, Culex Tarsalis, is most active.
“It’s starts out in the spring in the spring in low numbers and the female mosquitoes just keep biting and they lay more eggs, causing more mosquitoes to emerge,” Provincial West Nile Virus Coodinator for the Ministry of Health. Curry explained about the Culex Tarsalis mosquito population. “They typically reach their peek numbers about this time of the year – end of July and first part of August.”
Curry says the mosquito thrives on warm weather.
“This mosquito is also more active around dusk and through the night, so it’s that mosquito that comes out when you’re relaxing on the deck or wrapping up the ball game.” he added.
Right now, the area of the province with the greatest risk is the south, where pools of mosquitos have been found for the past 2 weeks.
So far this season, there has been one positive West Nile Virus lab test but Curry says that does not necessarily indicate a current WNV infection.
“People will get exposed now and it will take them several weeks to develop symptoms, get tested, go to their doctor and the case gets reported,” he said. “Often we see as much as a month or more delay by the time people get sick and a case is reported to us.”
Most people who become infected with West Nile Virus experience no symptoms or have mild illness such as fever, headaches and body aches.
The province’s chief medical health officer, Dr. Saqib Shahab says after a bite from the Culex Tarsalis, a small number of people develop a serious illness called West Nile Virus neuroinvasive disease.
“Only 1 in 5 get mild symptoms…and that usually goes away on its own, doesn’t require medical attention, but about 1 in 150 get the more serious neuroinvasive disease.”
Shahab adds if develop serious symptoms such as persistant fever, confusion, neck stiffness or an unusually severe headache, seek medical attention immediately.
One Case in Manitoba
Manitoba Health is reporting the first confirmed human case of West Nile in the province in 2018.
It’s a child under the age of 10, who officials say was likely infected in July, in the Southern Health region.
The child was hospitalized after showing signs of neurological disorder from the virus.
Precautions against WNV
Health officials suggest using repellant, and limiting your time outdoors, especially on warm evenings between dusk and dawn.
Ensure door and window screens fit tightly and are free of holes and remove anything around your home and yard that will allow a mosquito to thrive, such as such as standing water, old tires and other items that can collect water, bushes, shrubs, lawn overgrowth and debris.
The virus first arrived in Saskatchewan in 2002, and between 2003 and 2017 there have been 158 cases of WNV neuroinvasive disease, resulting in 17 deaths.
For up-to-date WNV risk levels, maps and surveillance results, you can vist the link below.