Friday September 19, 2014

QUESTION OF THE WEEK

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Take precautions against West Nile virus

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As the risk for West Nile virus continues to increase, health officials are reminding Saskatchewan residents to protect themselves against mosquito bites.

The risk of contracting WNV infection usually peaks late July and in August when the mosquitoes that carry the virus, Culex tarsalis, are most active and present in higher numbers.

"Protect yourself from mosquito bites by covering up and wearing repellents or reducing the amount of time spent outdoors," said Provincial West Nile Virus Coordinator Phil Curry. "Mosquitoes can be active at any time but are most active in the evening and throughout the night."

People can also minimize exposure to mosquitoes by eliminating mosquito habitats around their homes.

Although the vast majority of people who have been infected with WNV experience no symptoms, some people will get a mild illness which includes fever, headaches and body aches and will improve on their own. A small number of people will develop a more serious illness called West Nile virus neuroinvasive disease, which includes encephalitis, an inflammation of the brain.

Symptoms of infection with WNV usually occur two to 15 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito. There may be a considerable time lag from when the risk of WNV transmission to humans is greatest to when human cases are confirmed.

"If you are concerned about your symptoms, contact your health professional or call HealthLine at 811," said Saskatchewan's Deputy Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Denise Werker. "Seek medical attention immediately if you develop severe symptoms such as severe headaches, persistent high fever with neck stiffness, confusion, seizures or paralysis."

Recovery from WNV neuroinvasive disease may take several weeks or months, and some effects may be permanent. In some cases, this form of the disease results in death.


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