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News Release

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

WHITBY, ON August 25, 2017 - 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. 19, there have been 14 probable and confirmed human cases of WNV reported in Ontario. In addition, there have been 264 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 Ken Gorman, Director, 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 15 days after a bite from an infected mosquito.

Area residents are encouraged to help reduce the risk of WNV by removing stagnant water on around their properties, including:

  • removing unused objects that could collect water, such as tires, flowerpots, toys, etc.;
  • turning over items such as wading pools, recycling boxes, wheelbarrows, and boats/canoes, when not in use; and
  • changing the water in bird baths and wading pools weekly, and aerating ornamental ponds.

To minimize the risk of mosquito bites and the possibility of WNV infection, 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.
  • Ensure that window and door screens are in good repair to prevent mosquitoes from entering your home.
  • Use an insect repellent containing DEET on exposed skin, following Health Canada’s safety tips on using personal insect repellents. Health Canada has more information on using insect repellents containing DEET at https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/about-pesticides/insect-repellents.html.

As part of its ongoing WNV surveillance program, the Health Department has placed a number of mosquito traps throughout Durham Region. Mosquitoes caught in these traps are collected and tested weekly for the virus. To date, a total of 10 groups of mosquitoes in the Region have 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. Information is also available at durham.ca/westnile.

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Media inquiries:

Regional Municipality of Durham:
Glendene Collins – Health Department, 905-668-7711 ext. 2999, glendene.collins@durham.ca

If this information is required in an accessible format, please call 1-800-841-2729 ext. 3094.

For more information, please contact Health Department.