The Saskatchewan Health Authority is advising residents in the southern and central Saskatchewan to take precautions to lower their chance of contracting West Nile virus (WNV) infection.
Although mosquito numbers are relatively low this year, Culex tarsalis comprises a significant proportion of the total mosquito population. Culex tarsalis carrying the WNV has been confirmed from traps located in southern and central locations in the province.
The positive tests highlight the importance for residents of southern and central Saskatchewan to take precautions as they are now at a greater risk of infection, especially during the hours of dusk and dawn when mosquito activity levels are at their peak.
WNV is a mosquito-borne virus that can be transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito. The main species that carries WNV in Saskatchewan is Culex tarsalis. With the warm/hot conditions in the province over the last while, there has been a sharp increase in the number of WNV infected mosquitoes in the province.
Residents are reminded to continue to take precautions to lower their chance of contracting WNV infection. Typically, the Culex tarsalis mosquitoes that carry WNV are active from mid-July to the end of August.
Most people who get infected with WNV will experience no symptoms, or only mild ones like fever, headaches and body aches. However, there is a small chance of developing a more serious illness called WNV neuro-invasive disease. This disease can lead to inflammation of the brain and even death.
To reduce your risk of infection, residents are advised to take the following precautions to reduce infection from WNV throughout the rest of the summer.
For more information on WNV, please visit the Government of Saskatchewan website.