Human case of West Nile virus identified

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The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit (SMDHU) is advising the public to continue to protect themselves against mosquito bites after recent laboratory results confirmed a positive human case of West Nile virus (WNv) in Simcoe County.

This is the first human case to be confirmed in Simcoe Muskoka this year.  

WNv circulates between birds and some species of mosquitoes. The virus can be transmitted to humans by a mosquito bite if the mosquito has first bitten an infected bird. Locally, the health unit’s surveillance program has shown that WNv activity remains within local and historical norms.

During the late summer and early fall, people may feel that the risk of being bitten by mosquitoes is reduced. However, mosquitoes continue to be active and people need to take precautions to protect themselves from the virus. To stay safe, the health unit recommends the following personal protection measures:

  • Use an approved insect repellent and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Wear light-coloured clothing, covering arms and legs in areas where mosquitoes are present.
  • Try to stay indoors when mosquitoes are most active (dusk to dawn).

Although most people will not become sick if bitten by an infected mosquito, WNv can cause severe illness in some people. Symptoms of WNv include fever, muscle weakness, stiff neck, confusion, severe headache and a sudden sensitivity to light. In very rare cases, the virus may cause serious neurological illness. Those experiencing symptoms should seek medical advice.

For more information about West Nile virus and protecting yourself from mosquito bites, visit SMDHU.org or call Health Connection at 705-721-7520 or 1-877-721-7520, Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

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