Protection urged against mosquitos and West Nile virus

Residents are reminded to take extra precautions against mosquito bites this summer

  • Jun. 27, 2012 3:00 p.m.

Residents are reminded to take extra precautions against mosquito bites this summer.

West Nile virus, a disease that is spread from infected birds to humans through mosquito bites, has been present in B.C. since 2009.

“If you have been bitten by a mosquito, you do not have to be tested for West Nile virus,” said Jennifer Jeyes, a communicable disease specialist with the Interior Health Authority.

“Most people who become infected with the virus will have no symptoms or ill effects at all. About 20 per cent of infected people may experience mild to severe flu-like symptoms and less than one per cent of people who are bitten by an infected mosquito will get severely ill. The elderly and people with compromised immune systems are generally more at risk of developing a severe illness in response to WNv exposure.”

West Nile virus was first detected in the South Okanagan during 2009.

To date, there have been three human cases of WNv acquired in our province, all in the Okanagan. Several cases also occur due to travel to nearby provinces or states with higher levels of West Nile mosquito activity.

If you have mild health symptoms that you think might be from the West Nile virus, you should get plenty of rest, drink fluids, and avoid alcohol. If your symptoms persist and seem to be getting more severe, call your doctor.

“While the risk of becoming seriously ill from WNv infection is low, it is important to remember there are preventative steps that everyone can take in order to reduce the risk of infection,” said Jeyes.

“The best protection against West Nile virus is to avoid mosquito bites and to reduce mosquito breeding areas.”