By Kenyon Stronski
Sunny South News
Alberta Health Services (AHS) wants Albertans to take steps in preventing and practising precautions to protect themselves against West Nile virus this summer.
In a recent announcement, Dr Vivien Suttorp, the Medical Officer of Health for Alberta’s Health Zone said, “With exposure to mosquitoes comes risk of West Nile virus, because some mosquitoes carry West Nile virus, it’s important to avoid being bitten at all.”
Within the announcement, AHS has outlined several preventive steps Albertans can take to help prevent West Nile virus. They are as follows:
Wearing a long-sleeved, light-coloured shirt, pants, and a hat. Consider staying indoors at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active. Use a Health Canada-approved insect repellent — some examples that were given are products containing DEET or Icaridin. The announcement outlined that for infants younger than six months, an insect repellent that contains DEET is not advised, and they ask for you to not use it. A safe alternative is using a mosquito net. Likewise, for children from six months to two years old, it is noted to only use repellent when there is a high risk for bites and it should not be used more than once a day.
“These steps can make it harder for mosquitoes to find you. And remember: if mosquitoes can’t find you, they can’t bite you,” said Dr. Suttorp.
It is said that after being bitten by a mosquito carrying West Nile, it is possible to develop West Nile non-neurological syndrome — formerly West Nile Fever — the more severe West Nile neurological syndrome.
It is said symptoms of the non-neurological syndrome can be uncomfortable and can include fever, chills, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, skin rash, swollen glands, and headache. “For people who develop neurological syndrome, symptoms can be more severe, including tremors, drowsiness, confusion, swallowing problems, high fever, unconsciousness, paralysis and even death.” Said the announcement.
Between 2003 and 2018 there have only been 532 cases of West Nile confirmed in Alberta — and it is noted that many were acquired within the province and were not travel-related. Out of the 532 cases, 458 were non-neurological syndrome.
To learn more about West Nile and how to keep safe, visit http://www.fightthebite.info or call 8-1-1.