Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health has confirmed two local human cases of West Nile virus. While these are the first human cases in the region this year, three mosquito pools in Guelph have also tested positive for West Nile and a bird was confirmed to have the virus in July.
“There is reason to be concerned that West Nile virus could be more prevalent in the coming weeks,” said Shawn Zentner, Health Protection Manager at WDG Public Health. “It’s important for people to be extra cautious and protect themselves against mosquito bites when outdoors this late in the season.”
West Nile virus is most commonly spread to humans by mosquito bites. When infected, some people will experience flu-like symptoms. In extremely rare cases there is the potential of inflammation of the brain and spinal column which may result in permanent disability or death. Adults over the age of 50 are most at risk of serious health effects.
To protect yourself from West Nile virus it is recommended to wear light-coloured pants and a long-sleeved shirt when outside. Health Canada recommends adults and children over 6 months of age use a mosquito repellent with DEET or icaridin. People should also avoid being outside at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes tend to feed.
Because mosquitoes lay their eggs in standing water, Public Health asks property owners to remove standing water anywhere it tends to collect. These locations include flower pots, bird baths, wheelbarrows, eavestroughs, rain barrels and tires.