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Toronto confirms first case of West Nile Virus in 2020 – How to protect yourself

Friday, September 4th 2020, 3:49 pm - Toronto Public Health has confirmed its first case of West Nile Virus in 2020. Here are three ways to prevent contracting the virus.

On Tuesday Toronto Public Health announced it has received a positive laboratory report identifying the city's first documented case of West Nile virus for 2020. The patient is an adult resident of the city.

While the risk to the general public remains low, experts recommend residents take precautions.

“While the likelihood of becoming infected with West Nile virus is low in our city, now is a good time to remind residents of simple actions they can take when enjoying the outdoors to further minimize the potential risk," Dr. Eileen de Villa, Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health, said in a statement.

"These actions include wearing insect repellent and light-coloured clothing, long pants and long-sleeved shirts to prevent getting bitten by an infected mosquito.”

WHAT IS WEST NILE VIRUS?

West Nile virus is contracted through mosquito bites. Three previous three cases were reported in Ontario on July 27, 2020. Health officials have confirmed that there are infected mosquitoes in several regions.

Mosquitoes contract West Nile when they feed on an infected bird. Symptoms of the virus include fever, headache, body ache, nausea, vomiting, and rash on chest, stomach or back. More severe symptoms include high fever, severe headache, muscle weakness, stiff neck, confusion, tremors, numbness and sudden sensitivity to light.

HOW TO PREVENT CONTRACTING WEST NILE VIRUS

  1. Cover up When going outside during mosquito feeding hours (between dusk and dawn), wear long sleeves, long pants, and socks. We've all fallen into the trap of just slipping on sandals. Wear light coloured clothing and special protectant clothing if you're outside for an extended period of time.

  2. Tidy up Once a week, get rid of any standing water around you. Mosquitoes lay their eggs in any amount of stagnant water. Keep your garden in check, adult mosquitoes like to rest in dense shrubbery. Also, if you have a compost pile, make sure to turn it often.

  3. DEET up Whenever you're around areas with mosquitoes use a repellent that contains DEET or icaridin. You can always talk to a pharmacist to see what works best for you.

To learn more about using DEET vs using candles, watch the video below:

With files from Randi Mann

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