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Saskatchewan advises precautions to prevent West Nile Virus

With the presence of mosquitos becoming more prominent during the warmer months, the Government of Saskatchewan is advising local residents to take precautions.

Currently, the southeastern part of the province has a higher risk of the virus compared to the rest of Saskatchewan. Culex tarsalis mosquitoes, which carry the virus, are in abundance and most active between June and September.

“Most people don’t even know they’re affected. Eight out of ten people who get that infection won’t even know they have it,” says Saskatchewan’s Deputy Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Denise Werker

Over the last 15 years, 161 cases of West Nile Virus neuroinvasive disease have been reported, 18 of the cases resulted in death. The disease is a more serious form of the illness that rarely develops. Those showing symptoms such as a persistent fever, confusion, neck stiffness or an unusually severe headache should seek medical attention immediately.

Proper precautions residents can take include covering up, using insect repellant and making sure door and window screens fit tightly to not allow mosquitoes into your household. Werker says parents can buy items such as nets for playpens and car seats in order to protect children outdoors.

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“One of the reasons why prevention of this infection is so important is because there is no treatment, there is no vaccine and so the only way to prevent it is to prevent yourself from getting bitten.”

Those who have a serious infection will receive supportive care at a hospital such as intravenous fluids and assistance breathing, according to Werker. She says there has been no detection of the virus in the province so far this year.

“That doesn’t mean that they’re not there it’s just where are traps are set up, we haven’t detected them. The risk of West Nile Virus increases as the summer progresses and that relates to the number of generations in mosquitoes as well as to the amount of heat that accumulates which encourages the virus to be within the female carriers.”

 

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