If you thought you were okay to skip the DEET and brave the bugs this long weekend, you might want to think again.
A batch of mosquitoes collected in Milton, Ontario, just southwest of Toronto, tested positive for West Nile Virus last week.
“This is the time of year we start to see positive lab results for West Nile virus,” said Dr. Hamidah Meghani, Halton Region Medical Officer of Health
But Halton isn’t the only region threatened by West Nile. Earlier this summer, Culex tarsal mosquitoes—insects that can carry the disease—were caught in one of Saskatoon’s carbon dioxide-baited traps.
The disease is transmitted to mosquitoes that feed on an infected bird, and is more common in urban areas where things like bird baths accumulate water.
Luckily, less than one percent of people infected become ill enough to be hospitalized.
But according Meghani, people should still be taking precaution: “Halton residents should protect themselves against mosquito bites and get rid of mosquito breeding sites now and until the West Nile virus season winds down in the fall.”
Of course the easiest way to do so is to stay indoors, but it’s summer and spending time outside is also important for your health.
When you are outdoors, make sure you’re using an approved insect repellent that contains DEET. The Halton Region Health Department also advises covering up in light colours and tightly woven fabric, reducing mosquito breeding sites around the home by getting rid of all water-filled containers, and avoiding the outdoors from early evening to morning when mosquitoes are most active.