The Saskatchewan Health Authority is warning residents in southeastern Saskatchewan that the risk of West Nile virus infection is increasing. This past week, some of the mosquitoes (Culex tarsalis) caught in surveillance traps were found to be infected with West Nile virus.
The provincial mosquito surveillance program identified the infected mosquitoes in traps collected on July 10 in the Estevan area. This positive pool is occurring a few weeks earlier than 2016 but about the same time as 2017. It is expected that there may be an increase in the number of pools, increases in infection rates and possible human infections.
To reduce your risk of infection, residents are advised to take precautions to reduce infection from West Nile virus throughout the rest of the summer.
• Wear an effective insect repellant containing DEET. Repellents with Icaridin and oil of lemon eucalyptus are also effective. Apply according to directions.
• Drain standing water. Mosquitoes require water to complete their life cycle. Eliminate or reduce all sources of standing water where mosquitoes can lay eggs like wading pools, wheelbarrows, containers, rain downspouts and gutters, pet dishes and birdbaths, etc. Reduce places in your yard where adult mosquitoes can thrive like tall grasses and weeds.
• Reduce the amount of time spent outdoors between DUSK and DAWN. The mosquitoes that carry West Nile virus are most active at dawn and dusk and in the early evening. They are especially active for two hours after sunset.
• Dress appropriately. Wear long sleeves and long pants (wear light-weight clothing to minimize the potential for heat-induced illnesses). Mosquitoes may be more attracted to individuals wearing perfumes and colognes.
• Mosquito-proof your home. Make sure that DOORS and windows have tight fitting screens. Repair or replace screens that have tears or holes.
“All people in the region need to prevent infections by getting rid of mosquito-friendly places in their yards and taking personal precautions to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes in the places where they live, work and play,” said Dr. Lanre Medu, Medical Health Officer with the Saskatchewan Health Authority in Weyburn. “People who work outside, especially at dusk and dawn, and those who are camping over the next few weeks are at higher risk of being bitten by mosquitoes and should pay particular attention to preventing these bites.”
While the risk due to Culex tarsalis mosquito is increasing, there is no need for adult mosquito control now. For more information on West Nile Vile, see the Government of Saskatchewan website.