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West Nile confirmed in Durham

The two separate positive mosquito pools were collected on Aug. 7 from regional trap

Durham Region Health Department has verified adult mosquitos that have tested positive for West Nile Virus. (Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

Durham Region Health Department has verified adult mosquitoes that have tested positive for West Nile virus.

The two separate positive mosquito pools were collected on Aug. 7 from one of the health department’s permanent mosquito trap sites located in Ajax. Positive confirmation was received on Aug. 9.

These are the first mosquitoes in Durham Region to test positive for the virus this season.

“With this West Nile-positive mosquito result, it’s important for area residents to take precautions to avoid mosquito bites and remove standing water from their properties,” said Ross MacEachern, manager of health protection with the health department.

West Nile Virus is a mosquito-borne disease that is spread to humans via the bite of an infected mosquito. Mosquitoes become infected by feeding on the blood of a bird that carries the virus but 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 two and 15 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito.

Although the risk of becoming infected is low, residents should still take the following precautions to minimize the risk of mosquito bites and the possibility of being infected with West Nile Virus.

Be sure to 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. For protection, use insect repellent containing DEET or Icaridin on exposed skin, following Health Canada’s safety tips on using personal insect repellents. Remove standing water from property where mosquitoes can breed, and ensure that window and door screens are in good repair to prevent mosquitoes from entering your home.

For more information on West Nile Virus, call the Health Department’s Environmental Help Line at 905-723-3818 or 1-888-777-9613, or visit durham.ca/westnile.