Region confirms year’s first human case of West Nile virus

A person in King Township who has tested positive for the West Nile virus is the first confirmed human case of the virus in York Region this year.

Mosquito activity varies from year to year and not all mosquitos are West Nile virus carriers. One mosquito trap has tested positive for the virus this year in Vaughan, but there may still be mosquitos carrying the virus in other municipalities. Positive West Nile virus cases have been reported in other regions throughout Ontario.

While many people exposed to the virus don’t develop symptoms, those who develop West Nile virus illness may experience symptoms that include fever, fatigue, headache, body aches, mild rash and swollen lymph glands.

In rare cases, the virus can cause serious neurological illness, which can present with severe headache, stiff neck and confusion. Seek medical attention if you experience any of these symptoms within two to 15 days after a mosquito bite. The virus isn’t transmitted person-to-person and is primarily transferred through mosquitoes infected with the virus.

“The risk of exposure to West Nile virus can be reduced by taking simple steps,” said Dr. Karim Kurji, York Region’s Medical Officer of Health. “Remember to use insect repellent containing DEET or icaridin, wear protective clothing when outdoors and remove standing water around your home in places such as flowerpots, birdbaths and containers.”

York Region encourages residents to follow other Fight the Bite tips to reduce their chance of being bitten by mosquitos. Limit outdoor activities in the early morning and early evening when mosquitos are most active; cover exposed skin by wearing long sleeves, pants and socks.

Since 2003, York Region Public Health has implemented an annual West Nile virus control plan that includes reducing mosquito populations through a process called ‘larviciding’ using federally- and provincially-approved pesticides. Also, every week between June and October, up to 40 mosquito traps are set up across the Region, capturing and testing mosquitos for the virus.

Learn more about the West Nile virus at york.ca/westnile or contact York Region Health Connection at 1-800-361-5653, TTY 1-866-512-6228.

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