Record number of West Nile cases reported in Montérégie, public health officials warn

Some 200 Quebecers contracted the West Nile virus from an infected mosquito last year, and 75 of them were from Montreal's South Shore — making it the most affected provincial region in 2018.

200 Quebecers contracted the virus from infected mosquitoes last summer — 75 of them on Montreal's South Shore

West Nile virus is transmitted through the bites of infected mosquitoes. (Canadian Press)

Public health authorities in Quebec's Montérégie are warning people to avoid getting bitten by mosquitoes, after a record number of cases of West Nile virus was reported in the region last summer.

A total of 75 people contracted West Nile virus in the region on Montreal's South Shore, making it the most affected part of the province in 2018.

In all, 200 Quebecers were found to be infected last summer, and four people died as a result, according to public health officials.

The head of public health for the Montérégie, Dr. Julie Loslier, said that most people who become infected experience no symptoms or very mild ones, including fever, headache and muscle pain.

She said people over 50 and those with chronic illnesses are most at risk.

"Even if it's not harmful for most of the population, there are some populations where prevention is more important," Loslier said.

In some cases, infected people go on to develop meningitis, encephalitis or paralysis — and there is no treatment or vaccine.

Loslier said the only way to prevent becoming infected is to avoid mosquitoes as much as possible.

She said vulnerable people should wear long pants and long-sleeved tops when they venture outside, use mosquito repellent and stay inside in the evening, at night and in the early morning, when mosquitoes are most active.


With files from CBC's Steve Rukavina


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