culex

West Nile virus is carried by Culex tarsalis mosquitoes.

A Saskatchewan man has been hospitalized with the more serious form of West Nile virus, the Saskatchewan government says.

Six other people are under investigation for West Nile, the Health Ministry said Friday.

Two cases are from Saskatoon, three are from the southwest part of the province, two are from the Regina area and one is from the Five Hills Heath Region.

Officials believe the recent cases became infected during the last week of August and early September.

The virus can cause flu-like symptoms in its milder form, although many people show no symptoms at all.

The person in hospital, a man in his early 60s, has the more serious, neurological type of the illness, which could result in the inflammation of the brain. In its more severe form, there can be paralysis or even death.

The man lives in the Five Hills Health Region, which surrounds Moose Jaw.

Dr. Saqib Shahab, the chief medical health officer in Saskatchewan, said usually this form of the virus affects older people with underlying health issues, but younger people can be affected as well.

"It can affect perfectly healthy people as well," said Shahab. "In fact, young healthy people sometimes get a less severe form, which is also neurological, which presents like a viral meningitis; so you know, vomiting and stiffness of the neck."

After analyzing West Nile risk maps online, Shabab said the risk level was found to be moderate in southern Saskatchewan, low in the central parts and minimal in the northern part of the province. 

The virus is transmitted by mosquitoes and with cooler weather coming in, the risk of future West Nile infections is declining, said Shahab. 

"I think this has been a warm, lovely September and this is the latest that we've seen positive mosquito viral pools," said Shahab. "The main message is the risk is still low, but not zero."