“With exposure to mosquitoes comes risk of West Nile virus,” says Dr. Karin Goodison, Medical Officer of Health – South Zone. “Because some mosquitoes carry West Nile virus, it’s important to avoid being bitten at all.”
Whether gardening, golfing, fishing, travelling or even just relaxing outdoors, all Albertans should take these simple steps to prevent bites and protect themselves from West Nile virus:
Wear a long-sleeved, light-colored shirt, pants, and a hat.
Use insect repellent with DEET.
Consider staying indoors at dawn and dusk, when mosquitoes are most active.
“These steps can make it harder for mosquitoes to find you, and remember: if mosquitoes can’t find you, they can’tbite you,” says Dr. Goodison.
After being bitten by a mosquito carrying West Nile virus, humans can develop West Nile Non-Neurological Syndrome (formerly known as West Nile fever) or the more serious West Nile Neurological Syndrome.
Symptoms of Non-Neurological Syndrome can be uncomfortable, including fever, chills, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, skin rash, swollen glands and headache. For those individuals who do develop Neurological Syndrome, symptoms can be much more severe, including tremors, drowsiness, confusion, swallowing problems, high fever, unconsciousness, paralysis and even death.
From 2003 to 2014, 680 cases of West Nile virus were confirmed in Alberta, 622 of which were acquired here in the province.
Albertans are encouraged to learn more about West Nile virus and the precautions necessary to reduce risk at www.fightthebite.info or by calling Health Link Alberta at 811.