West Nile Virus found south of Highlands
The Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit is urging residents to be vigilant regarding exposure to mosquitoes after the discovery of the West Nile Virus in Lindsay.
Early last week, the health unit confirmed the virus had been detected in a sample of mosquitoes collected in Lindsay on Aug. 9. It’s the first case this year for the region, which includes the City of Kawartha Lakes, Northumberland County and Haliburton County.
“There is no good time or reason to be bitten by [a] mosquito, and that’s especially true with this first finding of West Nile Virus in our area,” says Richard Ovcharovich, manager of environmental health with the HKPR District Health Unit. “We encourage people to continue taking precautions and fighting the bite of mosquitoes that spread illness.”
However, finding the virus at this time of the year isn’t that unusual.
Five days before the health unit’s finding, Public Health Ontario noted the virus had been found in 65 batches of mosquitoes collected across the province in 2018. To date this year, Public Health Ontario has reported five human cases in the province.
The health unit asks the public to reduce the risk of West Nile Virus by taking precautions.
This includes covering up during outings to include light-coloured clothing (long-sleeved shirts, jackets, long pants, hats and socks), particularly between dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active. Also, applying insect repellent with DEET on exposed skin is recommended.
Everyone can help with limiting the number of mosquitoes by keeping areas around homes less conducive for their reproduction. The health unit suggests removing any standing water around homes, cottages or campsites. The public can do their part by keeping bushes and shrubs clear of overgrowth and debris and turn over compost piles on a regular basis. Limit mosquitoes in your home by ensuring windows and door screens fit tightly and don’t have holes.
Don’t let your guard down until the first sign of winter.
“Mid- to late-summer is typically the time when we see more cases of West Nile Virus, so we should continue taking precautions against mosquitoes right up until the first heavy frost in the fall,” Ovcharovich notes.
According to the health unit, most people who get the West Nile Virus do not experience any symptoms. However, a small number of individuals can develop flu-like symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, muscle weakness and stiff neck. Also, a small number may develop more severe symptoms, including confusion, tremors and sudden sensitivity to light.
People who suspect they have West Nile Virus should seek medical attention. For more information about West Nile Virus, call the health unit at 1-866-888-4577, ext. 5006, or visit www.hkpr.on.ca.