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West Nile Virus detected in Laurentian Valley

By Celina Ip

RENFREW COUNTY – Renfrew County and District Health Unit (RCDHU) is warning Laurentian Valley residents to protect themselves from mosquito bites after detecting West Nile Virus (WNv) in the area.

 

In a media released dated August 1, the RCDHU stated that mosquitoes carrying the virus had been found in Laurentian Valley Township around the intersection of Highway 41 and Whitewater Road.

Since 2005, when the RCDHU began monitoring mosquitoes for WNv, this is the first time that mosquitoes have tested positive for the virus in Renfrew County.

Despite the low risk and there being no reported human cases as of yet, the RCDHU will continue to monitor the area and will be setting mosquito traps on a weekly basis across the region during the summer months.

“The Renfrew County and District Health Unit has been actively monitoring mosquitoes for West Nile virus” said Dr. Kieran Moore, Acting Medical Officer of Health, in a press release. “This recent finding of local mosquitoes carrying WNv serves as a reminder that even though the risk is low, individuals should take precautions to prevent bites and reduce breeding sites”.

Since WNv was first detected in North America in 1999, it has since spread across the continent with cases reported annually. The virus is an infection found in birds that is later carried by mosquitoes once they feed on those infected birds. Human and animals can come in contact with the virus if they are bitten by those infected mosquitoes.

After being infected, it can take up to two weeks before symptoms begin to appear. Four out of five people who are infected will not show any symptoms.

Others may see early symptoms of fever, headache, body aches, skin rash, and occasionally, vomiting and nausea. Of those showing symptoms, approximately 1 in 150 may develop more serious symptoms such as stiff neck, confusion, tremors, numbness or sudden sensitivity to light.

The RCDHU encourages the public to remain cautious and take any necessary measure to avoid mosquito bites.

People who spend time outdoors are encouraged to wear long-sleeved shirts and pants in light colours, use insect repellent containing DEET or other approved ingredients, empty standing water around their property and check screens at home to keep mosquitoes outdoors.

For more information about West Nile virus including tips on how you can “Fight the Bite”, please visit the health unit website at www.rcdhu.com

cip@postmedia.com