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News Release

Durham Region reports first human case of West Nile virus this season

WHITBY, August 22, 2013 - Durham Region Health Department has received confirmation of one human case of West Nile virus (WNV) illness. This is the first human case of WNV reported in Durham Region this year.

As of Aug. 17, there have been 10 probable and confirmed human cases of WNV reported in Ontario. There have been 89 WNV positive groups of mosquitoes identified across the province and WNV-infected mosquitoes continue to be found across the GTA.

“While the overall risk of becoming infected with WNV is low, it’s still important for everyone to take precautions to avoid mosquito bites,” explained Laura Freeland, Manager, Environmental Health with Durham Region Health Department.

WNV illness is a mosquito-borne disease that is spread to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito. Mosquitoes become infected by feeding on the blood of a bird that carries the virus. The disease is not passed from person to person or from bird to person. Most people who contract the virus will experience mild illness including fever, headache, body ache, nausea, vomiting and rash on the chest, stomach or back. More serious symptoms can include muscle weakness, stiff neck, confusion, tremors, numbness and sudden sensitivity to light. Symptoms usually develop between three and 14 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito.

To minimize the risk of mosquito bites and the possibility of being infected with WNV, the Health Department recommends taking the following precautions:

  • Wear shoes, socks and light-coloured clothing, including long sleeve tops and full-length pants, when outside especially during evening, nighttime or dawn when mosquitoes are most active.
  • Use insect repellent containing DEET on exposed skin, following Health Canada’s safety tips on using personal insect repellents. More information on using insect repellents containing DEET can be found in Health Canada’s pamphlet “Safety Tips on Using Personal Insect Repellent
  • Ensure that window and door screens are in good repair to prevent mosquitoes from entering your home.

As part of its ongoing WNV surveillance program, the Health Department has placed a number of mosquito traps throughout the Durham Region. Mosquitoes caught in these traps are collected and tested weekly for the virus. Groups of mosquitoes carrying the virus have been found in eight traps so far this summer. In 2102, a total of 17 groups of mosquitoes in the Region tested positive for WNV.   For more information on WNV, please call the Health Department’s Environmental Help Line at 905-723-3818 or 1-888-777-9613.

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Media Inquiries:
REGIONAL MUNICIPALITY OF DURHAM:
Glendene Collins - Health Department 905-668-7711, ext. 2999