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West Nile Virus returns to Durham

First case of 2017 discovered on July 20, region advising residents to take precautions

The region’s health department has confirmed the first case of West Nile Virus in Durham in 2017.

The positive mosquito pool was collected on July 18 from one of the health department’s permanent mosquito trap sites located in Oshawa and positive confirmation was received on July 20.

The health department sets traps across the region and submits mosquitoes for laboratory testing every week between June and September.

In 2016, there were 10 confirmed cases of West Nile Virus in Durham Region from 9,347 mosquitoes caught in 199 traps.

In the year prior, there were 20,092 mosquitoes caught in 175 traps.

The health department’s 2016 Vector-Borne Disease Report, indicates there were 0 confirmed cases in 2015 and 2014, 15 in 2013 and 17 in 2012.

“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,” says Ross MacEachern, manager of environmental health with the Durham Region Health Department.

MacEachern says even though 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.

– Wear shoes, socks, and light-coloured clothing, including long sleeve shirts and full-length pants when outside especially at dusk or dawn when mosquitoes are most active

– Use insect repellent containing DEET on exposed skin

– Remove standing water (where mosquitoes breed) from your property

– Ensure that window and door screens are in good repair to prevent mosquitoes from entering your home

West Nile Virus is a mosquito-borne disease that is spread to humans through a bite from the infected insect.

Mosquitoes become infected by feeding on the blood of a bird that carries the virus.

The disease is not carried from person to person or from bird to person.

Most people who contract the virus will experience mild illnesses 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 to 15 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito.

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