West Nile protection

With mosquitoes in abundance, Alberta Health Services is reminding people to take precautions to protect themselves against West Nile virus infection while they’re out and about this summer.

With mosquitoes in abundance, Alberta Health Services is reminding people to take precautions to protect themselves against West Nile virus infection while they’re out and about this summer.

Albertans are reminded to take simple steps to prevent bites and protect the potential for West Nile infection. Some simple precautions include wearing a long-sleeved, light-coloured shirt, pants and a hat; using insect repellent with DEET and considering staying indoors at dawn and dusk, when mosquitoes are most active.

“With exposure to mosquitoes comes risk of West Nile virus,” said Dr. Digby Horne, AHS medical officer of health — Central Zone. “Because some mosquitoes carry West Nile virus, it’s important to avoid being bitten at all.”

After being bitten by a mosquito carrying West Nile virus, humans can develop West Nile non-neurological syndrome or the more serious West Nile neurological syndrome.

Symptoms of the non-neurological version include fever, chills, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, skin rash, swollen glands and headaches.

The neurological version can be more severe with tremours, drowsiness, confusion, swallowing problems, high fever, unconsciousness, paralysis and even death.

Last year, 21 cases of West Nile were confirmed in Alberta residents. Of those, four were neurological and one was fatal.

To learn more about West Nile and risk-reducing precautions, visit www.fightthebite.info or call Health Link Alberta at 1-866-408-5465.

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