Alberta Health Services is reminding people to take simple, preventative measures to reduce the risk of West Nile virus this summer.
Wearing mosquito repellent with DEET, as well as long sleeves, pants and socks when outside are still the most effective prevention measures when dealing with West Nile virus.
“Albertans and travellers need to use these protective measures when gardening, golfing, fishing or relaxing outdoors,” said Dr. Vivien Suttorp, medical officer of health for the south zone of Alberta Health Services.
The spread of the virus to humans is dependent on the activity of Culex tarsalis mosquitoes, which are typically most active during July and August, although their spread is dependent on the weather.
The last few West Nile virus seasons have not been consistently warm enough to facilitate the spread of infected mosquitoes.
“The last few summers have seen very few confirmed cases of West Nile virus, which is a positive thing, but Albertans need to remain vigilant about protecting themselves from mosquitoes,” said Dr. Gerry Predy, senior medical officer of health. “West Nile virus can be a very serious illness that can have debilitating effects, particularly on older adults.”
Symptoms of the most common form of West Nile virus (non-neurological syndrome) include fever, chills, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, a possible skin rash or swollen glands and headache.
These symptoms usually occur within two to 14 days of infection. However, many people who become infected show no symptoms.
A small number of infected people get the less common and more serious West Nile neurologic syndrome, which can cause tremors, vomiting, nausea, drowsiness, confusion, swallowing problems, high fever, decreased level of consciousness and paralysis.
Last year there were five confirmed cases of West Nile virus in Canada and one in Alberta, a non-neurological case.
For more information on West Nile virus, visit www.fightthebite.info.