Summer is here, and so are the culex tarsalis mosquitoes that carry West Nile Virus.
Health officials are issuing their annual reminder for Saskatchewan residents to take precautions to reduce their exposure to the insects.
“By all means, get out and enjoy the summer weather, but make sure you’re taking the appropriate precautions to keep from getting bitten by mosquitoes that might carry West Nile,” Provincial West Nile Virus Coordinator Phil Curry says.
To reduce your risk of exposure to West Nile Virus, the following precautions are recommended: using insect repellent containing DEET; wearing protective clothing.
Reduce time outdoors between dusk and dawn; regularly cleaning and emptying containers that can collect water such as bird baths and eavestroughs; clearing yards of old tires and other items that can collect water; ensuring rain barrels are covered with mosquito screening or are tightly sealed around the downspout; keeping screens on windows and doors in good repair; and keeping bushes, shrubs and lawns clear of overgrowth and debris.
Most people who become infected with West Nile Virus will experience either no symptoms or only mild illness such as fever, headaches and body aches.
“If you’re bitten by a West Nile Virus-infected mosquito, there is still a small risk of serious neurological illness like inflammation of the brain and, in rare cases, death,” Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Moira McKinnon adds.
“People who develop severe symptoms such as unusually severe headaches, persistent high fever or confusion, need to seek medical attention immediately.”
Additional information on protective measures and the West Nile Virus (symptoms, when to seek help) are available on the Ministry of Health’s website and Healthline Online www.health.gov.sk.ca/healthline-online.