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Simple precautions can reduce risk of West Nile virus

Alberta Health Services is reminding Albertans it’s time to fight the bite and protect themselves against West Nile virus infection.
“Summer is all about enjoying the outdoors,” senior medical officer of health Dr. Gerry Predy said. “Unfortunately, summer also brings exposure to mosquitoes. Because some mosquitoes carry West Nile virus, it is important to try to avoid being bitten at all.”
Whether gardening, golfing, fishing or even just relaxing outdoors, all Albertans should follow these simple tips to prevent bites and protect themselves from West Nile virus:

  • Wear mosquito repellent with DEET.
  • Wear long-sleeved, light-coloured shirts and pants.
  • Wear a hat.
  • Consider staying indoors at dawn and dusk, when mosquitoes are most active.

“These steps can make it harder for mosquitoes to find you — and, if they can’t find you, they can’t bite you,” Predy said.
After being bitten by a mosquito carrying West Nile virus, humans can develop West Nile Non-Neurological Syndrome — formerly known as West Nile fever — and, occasionally, the more serious West Nile Neurological Syndrome.
Some people who become infected with Non-Neurological Syndrome show no symptoms at all; however, the symptoms that could occur can be uncomfortable, including fever, chills, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, skin rash, swollen glands and headache.
For the small number of individuals who do develop the Neurological Syndrome, infection can lead to tremors, drowsiness, confusion, swallowing problems, high fever, unconsciousness, paralysis and even death.
In 2011, 102 cases of West Nile virus were confirmed in Canada. Although no cases were reported in Alberta in 2011 Predy warns Albertans not to take the risk of West Nile virus lightly.
“West Nile virus infection can cause severe illness with debilitating, lifelong effects, particularly in older adults,” Predy said. “I urge all Albertans to continue to fight the bite.”
For more information and tips, Albertans can visit www.fightthebite.info or call Health Link Alberta, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, toll-free at 1-866-408-5465.

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