Sask. Warns of risk of West Nile virus: Highest between June and September

(Government of Saskatchewan)

Bailey Sutherland, Daily Herald

The Culex Tarsalis mosquito, also known as the Western Encephalitis mosquito, has raised concerns throughout Saskatchewan due to the increased risk of contracting West Nile virus.

Between the summer months of June and September, the Culex Tarsalis mosquito is the most active and is present in the highest numbers, especially in the southern portions of the province. While the first identified case in Saskatchewan occurred in 2002, the risk of West Nile virus has only increased.

“Most people who become infected with West Nile virus experience no symptoms or have mild illness with symptoms such as fever, headaches, and body aches,” Saskatchewan’s Deputy Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Denise Werker said in a press release.

Reducing the risk of contracting West Nile virus can prevent the development of the more serious illness West Nile virus neuroinvasive disease, which can cause inflammation of the brain and may result in death. Between 2003 and 2018, there were a recorded 161 cases of West Nile virus neuroinvasive disease; resulting in 18 deaths.

“If you develop serious symptoms like a persistent fever, confusion, neck stiffness or an unusually severe headache, seek medical attention immediately,” Werker said.

The Government of Saskatchewan urges residents to take extra precautions to prevent mosquito bites and reduce the risk of contracting West Nile virus.

Mosquito bites can be prevented by using appropriate insect repellent while outdoors, covering up with light-coloured, loose-fitting, long-sleeved clothing, maintaining door and window screens around your home, removing potential mosquito habitats around your home and yard, and reducing the amount of time spent outdoors between dusk and dawn, when Culex Tarsalis mosquitos are most active.

More information regarding West Nile virus, symptoms, prevention methods, and weekly surveillance reports can be found at http://www.saskatchewan.ca/residents/health/diseases-and-conditions/west-nile-virus.