First human case of West Nile confirmed in Niagara

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Published September 1, 2023 at 2:35 pm

west nile niagara
Photo by Jimmy Chan

The first West Nile infection in a person was confirmed in Niagara.

Niagara Region Public Health announced today (Sept. 1) that it has detected its first laboratory-confirmed human infection of West Nile virus for 2023.

There was no further information provided on the condition of the person infected, nor was there a more specific location.

There have been other human-confirmed cases recently in Toronto and London, Ontario.

Niagara Region Public Health says most people infected with West Nile virus do not get sick but about 20 per cent of people experience flu-like symptoms and fatigue.

And one per cent experience severe symptoms and serious health effects, such as a rapid severe headache, neck stiffness, confusion, weakness and a sudden sensitivity to light.

Older people or those with compromised immune systems are at higher risk of developing severe symptoms.

While flu-like symptoms may be attributable to many causes, West Nile virus could be a possibility in an individual experiencing any of the above symptoms and recent exposure to mosquito bites.

Anyone concerned about their symptoms should see their health care provider.

Public Health offers the following tips to prevent mosquito bites and reduce the risk of being exposed to West Nile virus:

  • Drain standing water around the home where mosquitoes may breed (e.g., bird baths, plant saucers, tires, toys, pails and wheelbarrows)
  • Repair damaged doors and window screens
  • Avoid mosquito-infested areas, such as storm sewers
  • Wear long-sleeved shirts, hats, long pants, socks and shoes that cover the feet – especially at dawn and in the evening when mosquitoes are active or in shaded parkland
  • Use insect repellants containing DEET or Icaridin

More information on West Nile virus illness and how to reduce the risk of infection can be found at www.niagararegion.ca/health or call Public Health at 905-688-8248 or 1-888-505-6074, ext. 7590.

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