Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Local health officials say protect yourself against West Nile

We are coming into the high season for West Nile virus in the province.

On average during the summer, roughly 80% of all cases reported across Alberta are here in the south.

Local Medical Health Officer, Dr. Vivien Suttorp says the main message is to protect yourself against exposure the best you can. “With exposure to mosquitoes comes risk of West Nile virus. Because some mosquitoes carry West Nile virus, it’s important to avoid being bitten at all.”

To protect against West Nile, here are some recommended things you can do:

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  • Wear a long-sleeved, light-coloured shirt, pants, and a hat.
  • Use an approved insect repellent (e.g. products containing DEET or Icaridin). For children younger than 12 years old, pay special attention to the percentage of repellent based on age.
  • For babies less than six months old, do not use any insect repellent. Instead, protect them with full-coverage clothing and a hat.
  • Consider staying indoors at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active.

From 2003 to 2018, 532 cases of West Nile virus were confirmed in Alberta, many of which were acquired here in the province and not travel-related. Of all of these cases, 458 were non-neurological syndrome.

Suttorp notes most people who’ve been exposed to West Nile through a mosquito bite never have symptoms, so cases are actually under-reported.

The height of the West Nile season is in August.

(Files from AHS News Release)

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