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First human case of West Nile virus in Durham

Durham Region Health Department has received confirmation of one human case of West Nile virus, marking the first human case in Durham Region this year.

As of Aug. 19, there have been 14 probable and confirmed human cases of the virus reported in Ontario.

In addition, there have been 264 West Nile Virus positive groups of mosquitoes identified across the province and virus-infected mosquitoes continue to be found across the GTA.

“While the overall risk of becoming infected with West Nile Virus is low, it’s still important for everyone to take precautions to avoid mosquito bites,” explained Ken Gorman, director of environmental health with Durham Region Health Department.

WNV illness is a mosquito-borne disease that is spread to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito. Mosquitoes become infected by feeding on the blood of a bird that carries the virus. The disease is not passed from person to person or from bird to person.

Most people who contract the virus will experience mild illness including fever, headache, body ache, nausea, vomiting and rash on the chest, stomach or back. More serious symptoms can include muscle weakness, stiff neck, confusion, tremors, numbness and sudden sensitivity to light. Symptoms usually develop between three and 15 days after a bite from an infected mosquito.

As part of its ongoing surveillance program, the Health Department has placed a number of mosquito traps throughout Durham Region. Mosquitoes caught in these traps are collected and tested weekly for the virus.

To date, a total of 10 groups of mosquitoes in the region have tested positive for the virus.

For more information, call the Health Department’s Environmental Help Line at 905-723-3818 or 1-888-777-9613. Information is also available at durham.ca/westnile.