York confirms first human case of West Nile virus

You’re reminded to Fight the Bite after an Aurora resident tested positive for West Nile virus, marking York Region’s first human case this year. The individual has since recovered from the illness, which can cause symptoms that range from mild to severe.

“The risk of exposure to West Nile virus can be reduced by taking a few simple steps,” says 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.”

West Nile virus is usually spread by the bite of a mosquito that has fed on an infected bird. Mosquito activity varies from year to year and not all mosquitoes are West Nile virus carriers. To further reduce your chance of being bitten by mosquitoes, limit outdoor activities in the early morning and early evening, which is when mosquitoes are most active. Also, cover exposed skin by wearing long sleeves, pants and socks.

York’s annual West Nile virus control plan includes reducing mosquito populations through a process called larviciding and uses provincially- and federally-approved pesticides. It also sets mosquito traps across the Region to capture and then test mosquitoes for the virus.

You’re urged to seek medical attention if you experience any West Nile virus symptoms, which include fever, muscle weakness, stiff neck, confusion, severe headaches and a sudden sensitivity to light. In rare cases, the virus can cause serious neurological illness including encephalitis or inflammation of the brain.

First symptoms usually appear within two to 15 days after infection. Learn more at www.york.ca/westnile or contact York Region Health Connection at 1-800-361-5653, TTY 1-866-512-6228.

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