As summer weather gets into full swing, Alberta Health Services is reminding people in northern Alberta about the risk of West Nile virus. More than 500 cases have been confirmed in the province since 2003, and Medical Officer of Health for the Health Zone Dr. Kathryn Koliaska says people need to be careful.
“With exposure to mosquitoes comes risk of West Nile virus. Because some mosquitoes carry West Nile virus, it’s important to avoid being bitten at all.”
Steps people can take include wearing long-sleeved and light coloured shirts, pants and a hat when outdoors. Using insect repellant with DEET is also recommended, along with 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’t bite you,” says Dr. Koliaska.
The West Nile virus is an infection mostly transmitted through the bite of infected mosquitoes. Severe neurological illness associated with the virus is rare, but the risk increases with age.
No cases of West Nile have been confirmed in Alberta so far in 2018. None have been reported in northern Alberta since 2012, and before that in 2007.