No human cases of West Nile reported yet

The mosquito-borne West Nile virus has yet to infect any Albertans this season, according to Alberta Health.

The mosquito-borne West Nile virus has yet to infect any Albertans this season, according to Alberta Health.

In fact, no human cases have been reported to the Public Health Agency of Canada from across the nation as of July 19.

In 2013, Alberta saw 21 West Nile cases with one fatality. Three cases were in Central Alberta.

There were 115 clinical cases across Canada in 2013 and five people died.

Humans infected with West Nile virus can develop either West Nile non-neurological syndrome or 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, the first few Alberta cases occurred in mid-August, including the first case in Central Alberta.

Dr. Martin Lavoie, the province’s deputy chief medical officer, said West Nile-infected mosquitoes are probably around right now and have bit people, but it takes about a week for someone to become infected and more time for them to seek medical assistance.

And 80 per cent of people don’t have symptoms, he said.

“Most people don’t have any symptoms at all. A small proportion will have some symptoms, about 20 per cent, and rarely will it be severe, less than one per cent,” Lavoie said.

He said there is no antiviral medication for West Nile and complications are more likely in the elderly.

The risk of infection is higher in Southern Alberta because of higher temperatures that spur on the mosquito population, he said.

“There is always a risk of West Nile. It will vary from year to year. We know it’s here, we just need to make sure we protect ourselves.”

Precautions include wearing a long-sleeved, light-coloured shirt, pants and a hat; using insect repellent with DEET, and staying indoors at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active.

Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource does not monitor Alberta’s mosquito population, but the province did in the past.

AESR spokesperson Carrie Sancartier said from the perspective of climate change, it’s hard to predict the impact on mosquitoes.

“On one hand, warmer weather can speed up the development of larvae of mosquitoes that carry the disease. But on the other hand, it can also dry up the pools where mosquitoes breed. So there’s no definitive answer at this point on what the impact would be,” Sancartier said.

Trevor Poth, Red Deer Parks Department superintendent, said long periods of dry weather this summer did trim the local mosquito population.

City staff have treated pockets of standing water four times this season, including a treatment that will be underway this week due to recent rain.

“We’re really anticipating a very standard treatment. We’re not expecting it to be booming population at all,” Poth said.

By this time last year, five treatments had been done, with a total of seven for the season.

“Generally, this has been a very typical year for mosquitoes.”

The city uses a microbial pesticide called bacillus thuringiensis israelensis (Bti) on ponds where mosquito larvae will hatch. It is used to treat the aquatic larval stage of the mosquito life cycle before it emerges as an adult.

Bti is non-chemical product that only kills mosquitoes. It does not affect fishing waters, other aquatic organisms or birds.

Dragonflies are also taking a bite out of local mosquitoes.

“We should see dragonfly populations right through until September. Their populations are doing amazing,” Poth said about the mosquito-eating insects that have benefitted from the hot weather.

He said residents can encourage dragonflies to visit their yards by having pollinator gardens with flowers and shade and a small water source where dragonflies will check for mosquitoes.

“The best thing to do is use a small bird bath with a few stones in it so that there’s landing platforms in the water itself.”

Just make sure to dump the water every couple of days and refill it so mosquito larvae can’t hatch, he said.

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

szielinski@bprda.wpengine.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Council approved a $3 million grant and a $19 million loan Tuesday to help keep Westerner Park sustainable. (Advocate file photo)
Red Deer city council approves $22M to keep Westerner Park viable after emotional debate

It’s vital ensure future success for the huge economic generator, says mayor

Red Deer Rebels goalie Chase Coward tries to find a loose puck during WHL action at the Centrium earlier this season. (Photo by ROB WALLATOR/Red Deer Rebels)
Changes on the horizon for Red Deer Rebels next season

New coach, roster adjustments among top priorities for Sutter this offseason

Renovations and construction have begun at Red Deer Dream Centre. (Photo contributed)
Renovations underway at Red Deer Dream Centre

Christian-based addictions treatment centre

Red Deer County's municipal planning commission gave approval for a new directional sign for a business located near Elnora.
(Image from Red Deer County)
Red Deer County garden centre and winery gets sign approved

Delidais Estate Winery and DA Gardens is located near Elnora

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Here is a list of latest COVID-19 restrictions in effect in Alberta

New mandatory health restrictions are now in effect in Alberta. Additional restrictions… Continue reading

Boston Bruins left wing Nick Ritchie (21) and Washington Capitals defenseman Brenden Dillon (4) battle for the puck during the first period of an NHL hockey game, Tuesday, May 11, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
Raffl’s late goal pushes Capitals past Bruins, 2-1

Raffl’s late goal pushes Capitals past Bruins, 2-1

Chicago Blackhawks left wing Alex DeBrincat (12) celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal during the second period of an NHL hockey game against the Florida Panthers in Chicago, Saturday, May 1, 2021. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
Toews’ question chases Chicago Blackhawks into offseason

Toews’ question chases Chicago Blackhawks into offseason

Wheeler has two goals, two assists as Winnipeg Jets clinch third in North Division

Wheeler has two goals, two assists as Winnipeg Jets clinch third in North Division

Depleted Raptors drop a 115-96 decision to Leonard and Clippers

Depleted Raptors drop a 115-96 decision to Leonard and Clippers

Denis Shapovalov, of Canada, tosses the ball for a serve to Ilya Ivashka, of Belarus, during the Miami Open tennis tournament Saturday, March 27, 2021, in Miami Gardens, Fla. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Wilfredo Lee
Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime upsets Diego Schwartzman at Italian Open

Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime upsets Diego Schwartzman at Italian Open

Philadelphia Flyers' James van Riemsdyk (25) and Sean Couturier (14) celebrate past New Jersey Devils' Yegor Sharangovich (17) after a goal by van Riemsdyk during the third period of an NHL hockey game, Monday, May 10, 2021, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
Flyers drop from trendy East favorite to another lost season

Flyers drop from trendy East favorite to another lost season

André Gauthier is shown in a handout photo. Gauthier, a Canadian geologist who spent six years in and out of jail in Dubai after he allegedly uncovered fraud in a gold company, finally is back home in Quebec City after his release last week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Detained in Dubai MANDATORY CREDIT
Canadian geologist detained in Dubai for six years is back home after charges dropped

Canadian geologist detained in Dubai for six years is back home after charges dropped

This undated photo provided by the North Dakota Game and Fish Department shows a group of bighorn sheep in North Dakota. Alberta's environment department has known for years that toxins from old coal mines are contaminating populations of the province's official animal, the bighorn sheep. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Craig Bihrle/North Dakota Game and Fish Department via AP, File
Alberta government knew bighorn sheep contaminated with coal mine selenium: scientist

Alberta government knew bighorn sheep contaminated with coal mine selenium: scientist

Most Read