Ottawa

West Nile virus found in Ottawa mosquitoes for 1st time in 2019

Ottawa Public Health is asking people in the city to protect themselves against mosquito bites after it recently found West Nile virus in local mosquitoes for the first time this year.

No confirmed or probable human cases of the virus yet this year

The West Nile virus has appeared in Ottawa's mosquito population for the first time this year, Ottawa Public Health said Friday. (Canadian Press File Photo)

Ottawa Public Health (OPH) is asking people in the city to protect themselves against mosquito bites after it recently found West Nile virus in mosquitoes for the first time this year.

On Friday, the agency said its trappers and testers had found the virus, without specifying where.

There have been no reported, confirmed or probable human cases of West Nile in Ottawa this year. According to OPH, there have been two reported cases in Ontario in 2019.

In 2018, there were seven confirmed or probable human cases of West Nile in Ottawa.

In a news release, OPH said people can help avoid mosquito bites by:

  • Reducing standing water sites around their home (bird baths, toys, flower pot saucers, swimming pool covers, etc.).
  • Applying a Health Canada-approved mosquito repellent containing DEET or Icaridin to exposed skin and clothing.
  • Protecting themselves especially between dusk and dawn, periods when mosquitoes are most active, and at any time in shady, wooded areas.
  • Wearing light-coloured and tightly woven clothing such as long pants, a long-sleeved shirt, shoes and socks to protect exposed skin.
  • Making sure all windows and doors in their home have screens that are in good condition.
  • Ensuring all openings to rain barrels are covered with screen mesh at all times.

West Nile virus is transmitted from birds to humans by mosquitos, according to Health Canada, which said 70 to 80 per cent of people who are infected don't show any symptoms.

People who do feel the effects of West Nile virus have symptoms ranging from fever, headaches and rashes to, in very rare cases, paralysis and loss of consciousness, Health Canada said.

Symptoms usually appear two to 15 days after someone gets bitten by an infected mosquito, and can be more severe in people who are older than 50 or have weakened immune systems.