The first local case of West Nile Virus (WNV) in a human this season has been confirmed, the City of Hamilton reported Thursday (Sept. 10).
In a press release, the City says the finding has prompted the Medical Officer of Health to move Hamilton’s WNV risk from moderate to high.
“Residents are reminded to protect themselves against mosquito bites and to remove standing water from private property to prevent mosquito breeding,” the release said.
According to public health, Most people infected with WNV will have no symptoms — approximately 80 per cent — others including older adults or those with weakened immune systems may experience West Nile fever (~20 per cent) or they may develop more severe illness including inflammation of the brain or the lining of the brain (~1 per cent).
“For any infection, if symptoms do occur, they appear two to 14 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito,” the release says.
Precautions to consider taking to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes includes:
- Use a mosquito repellent (bug spray) containing DEET or Icaridin.
- Avoid areas where mosquitoes are known to be present or cover up by wearing light coloured long sleeves and long pants when in mosquito areas such as wooded areas, on the golf course, or in the garden, especially at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active.
- Reduce mosquito breeding sites by removing standing water at least weekly from your property. Mosquitoes lay their eggs in very shallow standing water. If you remove the standing water, they cannot lay eggs.
“It is important to take precautions to avoid illnesses spread by insects including West Nile Virus, Lyme disease, and Eastern equine encephpalitis,” said Dr. Bart Harvey, Hamilton’s Associate Medical Officer of Health in the release.
“The risk of these infections will drop once there is a heavy frost that reduces the number of mosquitoes.”
The City of Hamilton continually assesses the risk for human illness as part of a comprehensive West Nile Virus surveillance and prevention program.
The City says it has completed three rounds of larviciding treatments on city street catch basins this year, in addition to ongoing treatment of surface waters on public land.
The first batch of West Nile positive mosquitoes was found in late August, prompting the Medical Officer of Health to increase the risk level at the time from low to moderate.