News

West Nile virus detected in Bradford

By Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit

West Nile virus has been detected in a mosquito trap located in the Town of Bradford West Gwillimbury, and recent lab results confirm two probable cases of WNv in Simcoe-Muskoka, one likely contracted in New Tecumseth.

“People may feel, with the end of summer approaching, that the risk of being bitten by mosquitoes is reduced,” said Dr. Charles Gardener, Medical Officer of Health for the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit. “However, late summer and early fall is the time when the risk of acquiring West Nile virus from a bite actually increases. As long as mosquitoes continue to be active, we need to take precautions to protect ourselves from the virus.”

Wet, mild weather this summer has resulted in substantially larger mosquito numbers across the province. The Town of BWG has historically been identified as an area with  increased risk for the virus, and  for many years has instituted a program of larviciding stormwater catch basins, to reduce mosquito populations and provide extra protection to the public.

In addition, residents are advised to use an approved insect repellent and follow the manufacturer's instructions, wear light-colored clothing, and cover arms and legs when in areas where mosquitoes are present, and avoid being outside when mosquitoes are most active, from dusk to dawn.

Homeowners are also advised to remove standing water from around the home, and ensure screens are free from breaks or rips.

Most of those infected with West Nile virus do not show symptoms, or experience only a mild illness which may include fever, headache, body ache, nausea, vomiting, or a rash on the chest, stomach or back. Less than 1% of those infected will experience serious symptoms. These may include high fever, severe headache, muscle weakness, stiff neck or confusion; in rare instances, the virus can cause meningitis, encephalitis, or death.

Those at greatest risk of severe illness are those over  the age of 50, and those with weakened immune systems or chronic diseases. The health unit urges anyone experiencing symptoms to seek medical attention.

For more information, call Health Connection at 1-877-721-7520 or see simcoemuskokahealth.org.