Drastic Jump In West Nile Virus Across Windsor-Essex

(© Can Stock Photo / Medclips)

The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit says confirmed human cases of West Nile virus reported have jumped.

It says they have gone from one in 2014, to 20 last year. Mosquito pools that tested positive rose from just one in 2014 to 29 in 2017.

This year’s West Nile virus (WNV) program is being launched on Tuesday. The program includes larviciding catch basins, standing water sites, and lagoons to disrupt mosquito breeding. The campaign also educates residents on self-protection, conducts adult mosquito surveillance, and investigates human cases.

The health unit urges people to use insect repellents containing DEET, Icaridin, or other approved ingredients on clothing as well as exposed skin, wear long-sleeved shirts, pants, and a hat when outdoors. Light-coloured clothing is best as mosquitoes tend to be attracted to dark colours.

The public is also asked to make sure that door and window screens fit securely and are free of holes, and remove any hazards that could become a reservoir for standing water, such as old tires, upturned wheelbarrows, animal dishes, and unused flower pots.

“West Nile virus is a potentially serious illness that is transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito. Each year, we have to prepare and assume that mosquitoes are carrying the West Nile virus,” says Dr. Wajid Ahmed, acting medical officer of health. “By taking simple precautions, residents can reduce the risk of being bitten by mosquitoes.È