West Nile continues to spread across the Region, now found in Ajax

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Published August 22, 2022 at 3:52 pm

West Nile positive mosquitos continue to spread across Durham Region this summer, now showing up in Ajax.

The Region first reported they had captured West Nile positive mosquitoes in Oshawa and Clarington last month. The test came in on July 21 as the first confirmation the virus had returned to Durham Region.

Nearly a month later on August 19 the Region announced yet more positive mosquitoes had been captured in Ajax. Durham Health Department captures and tests mosquitoes across all municipalities every week.

The latest batch prompted the Region to caution residents, “it’s important for area residents to take precautions against [West Nile Virus] by avoiding mosquito bites and removing standing water from their properties.”

West Nile virus is mosquito-borne and only spread via bites. A mosquito can bite a bird, pick up the virus and transfer it to people. It does not spread from person to person, nor can it jump from birds to people.

West Nile is the leading cause of mosquito-borne disease in North America, spread via bites from infected insects. According to CDC data, most infected with West Nile will feel no symptoms.

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However, around one fifth of infected people will experience a fever and other symptoms such as; headache, body aches, joint pains, vomiting, diarrhea, or a rash. Most recovery quickly, but in some cases fatigue and weakness can last for weeks or months.

In about 1 in every 150 infected people (.6 percent) symptoms can become serious and potentially deadly. Infections in these cases develop severe illness including encephalitis, swelling of the brain, or meningitis, swelling of the membranes around the brain and spinal cord.

While the risk of infection, and therefore extreme reactions, remains low, the Region offered some advice to avoid it;

  • “wear shoes, socks, and light-coloured clothing, including long sleeve tops and full-length pants when outside, especially at dusk or dawn when mosquitoes are most active.
  • Use insect repellent containing DEET or Picaridin on exposed skin, following Health Canada’s safety tips on using personal insect repellents.
  • Remove standing water from your property where mosquitoes can breed.
  • Ensure that window and door screens are in good repair to prevent mosquitoes from entering your home.”
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