Health officials advise Saskatchewan residents to take precautions against mosquitoes, as the weather warms up and the risk of West Nile Virus increases.
West Nile Virus (WNV) is present in Saskatchewan during summer, and the risk typically peaks between mid-July and September. The virus is transmitted through the bite of infected Culex tarsalis mosquitoes.
Most people who become infected with WNV experience no immediate symptoms or have very mild illness (fever, headaches, body aches). A small number of people develop a more serious illness called West Nile Virus neuroinvasive disease, which includes encephalitis, an inflammation of the brain. The elderly and people with certain medical conditions are at higher risk of developing the severe form of WNV infection.
"Most West Nile Virus infections usually improve on their own, so there is no need to seek medical attention or to get laboratory tests," Saskatchewan's Deputy Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Denise Werker said. "However, if you develop serious symptoms such as severe headaches, persistent high fever with stiff neck, confusion, seizures, or paralysis, see a health care provider immediately."
"The number of infected Culex tarsalis mosquitoes may rise quickly if we get prolonged hot, dry weather in July and August," Provincial West Nile Virus Coordinator Phil Curry said. "If you plan to be outside when mosquitoes are active, take precautions to protect yourself from bites."
Some precautionary actions would be to use appropriate insect repellent when outside, DEET proves to be most effective.
Light coloured, loose fitting, long sleeved tops and long pants provide protection from bites.
Reducing the amount of time spent outside between dusk and dawn as well as reducing mosquito habitats around the house and yard is also desired.
Updated information on WNV including risk levels and maps and surveillance results will be posted every Friday before noon on www.saskatchewan.ca/westnile.