SOUTHERN ALBERTA: Health workers in the region have issued a warning about West Nile virus. The sickness is carried by mosquitoes that are more commonly found in southern Alberta, and more cases have been found in this area compared to other parts of the province, since the first case in 2003.
"The key message is we need to protect ourselves all the time," said Dr. Vivien Suttorp, the region's Medical Officer of Health. The main reason to favour prevention over treatment is that symptoms of the illness are so difficult to track. "People may have a bit more headaches, fatigue, muscle aches and pains, a fever and maybe a rash. And that can happen anywhere from two to 14 days after the mosquito bite," said Suttorp. Some people may experience higher fevers and more severe symptoms. One in 150 cases can get West Nile neurological syndrome, which can irritate brain tissue and possibly lead to paralysis. Last year, one out of a total of five confirmed West Nile virus cases was found in Alberta. There have been no reported cases of the virus in southern Alberta so far this year, but sustained warm temperatures could change that.
Suttorp says the best prevention methods are achievable by changing some summer behaviours. Avoid being outside during the early morning and evening hours, as she says that's when the pests are most likely to bite. You should also cover bare skin when you're outside by wearing socks, long pants and long-sleeved shirts. Using repellant with DEET in it is another key method of prevention, as is getting rid of standing water in your home. Suttorp says even leaving your pet's water dish out could create a breeding ground for mosquitoes. For more information about preventing West Nile virus, like what concentrations of DEET are safest for children, visit www.fightthebite.ca.
Posted on Wednesday, June 29, 2011 at 12/7/2013 2:10:54 PM
Source: Marion Warnica, Country 95 News -- photo by Country 95 News: Dr. Vivien Suttorp