Peel has first human West Nile virus case of season

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Published September 17, 2021 at 7:02 pm

Peel Public Health has confirmed the region’s first probable human case of West Nile virus in a resident this year.

West Nile virus is an infection transmitted to people through the bite of an infected mosquito. Batches of infected mosquitoes have been found in Mississauga, Brampton, and nearby centres such as Hamilton and Halton Region throughout the summer.

Peel Public Health says residents should protect themselves from mosquito bites and remove standing water where West Nile-carrying mosquitoes can breed. The latter part might be extra-paramount after a week of heavy rain, followed by high humidity.

“While the risk of getting West Nile virus in Peel is low, this case reinforces the need for all residents to protect themselves from mosquito bites when outdoors and to remove mosquito breeding sites from their properties. Mosquitoes will remain active until the first frost,” Dr. Lawrence Loh, the medical officer of health for Region of Peel, stated on Friday (Sept. 17).

West Nile virus symptoms usually develop between two and 14 days after a person is bitten by an infected mosquito. Most people who contract the disease will show no symptoms, and approximately 20 per cent will experience mild flu-like symptoms. In very rare cases (fewer than one per cent) the infection can cause more severe symptoms including severe headache or confusion.

Residents can protect themselves from mosquito bites by:

  • Applying an approved insect repellent containing an ingredient effective against mosquitoes, such as DEET or icaridin, to exposed skin and clothing. It is important to read and follow the manufacturers’ directions for safe use.
  • Avoiding areas with high mosquito populations and taking extra precautions between dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active, and at any time in or near shady, wooded areas.
  • Wearing light-coloured, tightly woven, loose-fitting clothing such as long pants, a long-sleeved shirt, shoes, and socks to protect exposed skin.
    Making sure all window and door screens fit securely and are free of tears and holes.
  • Ensuring that openings to rain barrels are always covered with a screen mesh.
  • Removing or draining items on your property that hold stagnant water. Water that is stagnant for more than seven days is an ideal breeding site for mosquitoes. Stagnant water sites may be reported to Peel Public Health at 905-799-7700 or online.
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