Mosquitoes are here, and that is prompting concern about West Nile Virus.
The culex tarsalis mosquitoes that are known to carry West Nile are expected to hatch in the coming weeks, as the period from mid-July to mid-August is considered the prime season for increased numbers for that type of mosquito.
That has prompted the annual reminder from the province to take precautions to avoid being bitten by those insects.
The provincial health department is urging residents to enjoy the summer weather but to also make sure to take the appropriate precautions to avoid being bitten by a mosquito carrying West Nile.
The precautions include:
-using insect repellent containing DEET;
-wearing protective clothing;
-reducing time outdoors between dusk and dawn;
-regularly cleaning and emptying containers that can collect water such as bird baths and eavestroughs;
-clearing yards of old tires and other items that can collect water;
-ensuring rain barrels are covered with mosquito screening or are tightly sealed around the downspout;
-keeping screens on windows and doors in good repair;
-and keeping bushes, shrubs and lawns clear of overgrowth and debris.
West Nile Virus can be serious, and chief medical health officer Dr. Moira McKinnon warns there is a small risk of serious neurological illness like inflammation of the brain, or even death in rare cases.
“People who develop severe symptoms such as unusually severe headaches, persistent high fever or confusion, need to seek medical attention immediately," said McKinnon in a statement.
Most who become infected experience either no symptoms or only mild illness such as fever, headaches or body aches.
Last year, despite the wet weather that produced a major hatch of mosquitoes, there were no reports of West Nile Virus in humans. Still, the provincial health department urges people to remain vigilant when it comes to minimizing their exposure.
The Ministry of Health is posting updated surveillance results, risk maps and weekly "West Nile and Culex Reports" every Friday morning at www.health.gov.sk.ca/west-nile-virus. More information on protective measures and on the West Nile virus can be found at www.health.gov.sk.ca/healthline-online.