British Columbia

B.C. residents warned of West Nile threat

The B.C. Centre for Disease Control is reminding residents to be aware of the West Nile virus during mosquito season.

The B.C. Centre for Disease Control is reminding residents to be aware of the West Nile virus during  mosquito season.

The centre said the mosquito population was kept in check by the cool spring, but the arrival of summer means its numbers are growing, particularly in the Okanagan and the Fraser Valley.

Less than a half dozen cases of West Nile virus, carried and spread by mosquitoes, have been recorded in B.C. since 2009.

Epidemiologist Dr. Bonnie Henry said the province's first West Nile victims were two people in the Okanagan two years ago.

"And then last year we had a number of birds that tested positive and one person who tested positive, and that again was in the Okanagan area, so we know that that is the highest risk area in the province."

Eighty per cent of people who are bitten by a mosquito infected with West Nile virus don't have any symptoms but in rare cases they can become seriously ill and even die.

Residents are advised to take action to prevent mosquito bites, including using repellents in the evening and early morning when mosquitoes are most active.

The centre also suggests dumping out water from empty flower pots and wheelbarrows, for example, to reduce sites where mosquitoes might breed.

With files from The Canadian Press

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