On October 22, the Eastern Ontario Health Unit (EOHU) sent a press release advising the public that this year’s first human case of the West Nile virus has been confirmed for the region.
“This first human case of the year shows that West Nile virus remains a concern in our area throughout the fall,” said Dr. Paul Roumeliotis, EOHU chief medical officer. “Residents should be aware and take the necessary precautions to protect themselves and their families.”
West Nile virus is carried by infected mosquitoes and transferred through bites, and the positive human case indicates that the virus is present in the local mosquito population despite no mosquitoes testing positive for the disease have shown up during this year’s EOHU monitoring program.
For most people, West Nile virus does not present a huge health risk. But some individuals may be more vulnerable to it and experience severe symptoms. Residents are advised to avoid mosquitoes as best they can if they weren’t doing so already.
Effective precautions include: federally approved insect repellents containing DEET or icaridin; wearing light-coloured clothing, long sleeves, pants, and socks when outside; avoiding being outside at dusk and dawn, as mosquitoes are the most active at that time; draining all sources of standing water from around the yard; ensuring that screens, windows, and doors are fully sealed.