The West Nile virus (WNV) has been detected in a mosquito batch trapped in Oakville this week, marking the first batch to test positive for the virus in Halton this year.
Urban areas are more likely to have mosquitoes that carry WNV. The types of mosquitoes that transmit the virus to humans most commonly breed in places such as bird baths, plant pots, old toys and tires that hold water.
While most people don't show any symptoms when infected with West Nile, it's possible to develop fever, headache, body aches, joint pains, vomiting, diarrhea or rash.
A majority of people who have symptoms recover completely, but a few could develop severe illness that affects the central nervous system such as encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) or meningitis (inflammation of the membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord).
Individuals with certain medical conditions, such as cancer, diabetes, hypertension, kidney disease and individuals over 50 years of age are at higher risk for severe disease.
Halton Public Health suggests residents protect themselves from mosquitoes by:
- Covering up when going outside between the hours of dusk and dawn (when most mosquitoes feed). Wear light-coloured, long-sleeved shirts and pants with tightly-woven fabric.
- Reducing mosquito breeding sites around your home by getting rid of all water-filled containers and objects, where possible. Change the water in bird baths at least once per week.
- Using an approved insect repellent, such as one containing DEET or Icaridin.
- Making sure your window and door screens are tight and without holes, cuts or other openings.