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Increased risk of West Nile Virus in parts of Saskatchewan

The Saskatchewan Health Authority is warning residents about the increased risk of West Nile Virus.

Currently, most of the province including Lloydminster is sitting at a low to minimal risk of the virus, but the number of infected mosquitos is increasing in southeastern Saskatchewan. Medical Health Officer for the Prairie North Region Dr. Mandiangu Nsungu says only certain mosquitos carry the virus.

“The virus is transmitted by a particular mosquito called culex tarsalis and this mosquito lives in Saskatchewan very prevalent, especially from the second part of July and into August.”

Nsungu says 80 per cent of people who get the virus do not show any symptoms.

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“Just less than 20 per cent of people will experience illness made up of a fever, headaches, muscle aches and they can also have a rash. They may also experience fatigue.”

Nsungu says a severe disease caused by the virus develops in less than one per cent of people, for example, meningitis.

In order to detect where the virus is more common in the province, the Ministry of Health sets up mosquito traps in various places to see whether they are catching the culex tarsalis mosquitos and then tests them to see which ones are affected.

The provincial mosquito surveillance program has found infected mosquitos in the Estevan area on July 10. SHA expects to see an increase of the pool of infected mosquitos along with infection rates.

Nsungu says people can protect themselves by first reducing the habitat for the mosquitos by cutting their lawns.

“Very important measure is to reduce time spent outdoors between dusk and dawn because that’s when the mosquitos are the most active. If at all you have to spend time outdoors, during that time make sure you take precautions to avoid mosquito bites by wearing long sleeve shirts, long pats and those parts of your body not covered should be sprayed with an insect repellent.”

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