Updated August 16, 2018
For the first time this year, the city of Saskatoon has had carbon-dioxide mosquito traps catch mosquitoes carrying the West Nile virus.
This has prompted the Saskatoon Health Authority to advise residents to take extra precautions during dusk and dawn, when the virus-carrying mosquito breed Culex tarsalis is most active.
This recent announcement follows Manitoba’s first human case of West Nile infection being reported in a child under 10, according to the province.
This brings Canada’s total number of human infections to four, with the other three occurring in Ontario. These numbers are similar to last year as Canada enters peak West Nile season, which is between mid-April to August.
The Culex tarsalis are sneaky bitters, most people do not realize they’re being but until it’s too late. Even though most people infected with West Nile do not exhibit symptoms, Health Canada warns that a person can exhibit low fevers or body aches as mild and common symptoms. Serious symptoms and treatment can be found at Health Canada’s website here.
“While the risk of becoming infected with West Nile virus is very low, now is a good time to remind residents of the ways they can protect themselves from mosquito bites and help reduce the risk of infection,” said Dr. Eileen de Villa, Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health.
Mosquitoes carrying the virus have also been found in Peel region, Ontario earlier this month. Three of the 33 mosquito traps tested positive for the the virus in Peel.
“These traps are tested weekly from June to September and with this recent confirmation of West Nile virus activity, we are increasing our efforts in the area surrounding the positive traps,” Paul Callanan, Director of Health Protection at the Region of Peel, said in a release.
“Luckily, the summer to this point hasn’t been extremely wet, which has limited prime breeding conditions for mosquitos,” Callanan said.
As of July 28, just over 1.5 per cent of trapped mosquito populations have tested positive for West Nile, according to Health Canada.
Experts advise to wear an effective insect repellant containing DEET, reduce time outside at dusk and dawn, wear light-coloured long sleeved shirts and pants if possible and drain pools of standing water where the mosquitos could breed.