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Friday, October 31, 2014
Saskatchewan

PROTECT YOURSELF AGAINST WEST NILE THIS SUMMER

The summer of 2007 was a record year in Saskatchewan for human cases of West Nile Virus (WNV). In anticipation of another potentially high risk year, the Ministry of Health is posting a visual tool to help Saskatchewan residents better understand their level of risk for contracting the disease this summer.

The colour-coded risk map, introduced in 2008, allows residents to see their risk of contracting WNV by health region, whether it is low, moderate or high. The map is based on the number of WNV-infected mosquitoes caught in surveillance traps around the province and other risk indicators such as the weather.

However, residents are reminded that they should take personal precautions, even in low-risk areas.

"Although the risk of contracting West Nile varies from year to year and region to region, there is always a risk," Saskatchewan Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Moira McKinnon said. "Low risk is not ‘no risk'. West Nile Virus is here to stay in Saskatchewan and it does not discriminate. If you can be bitten by a mosquito, you can contract West Nile."

Personal protection measures are the best way to protect yourself against WNV:

  • Wear insect repellent containing DEET;
  • Wear protective clothing;
  • Reduce your time spent outdoors at dawn and at dusk; and
  • Reduce mosquito habitat where you live, play and work.

Only one in 150 people infected with West Nile Virus will develop serious illness, with high fever, headache, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, vision loss, numbness or paralysis. These symptoms may last several weeks and neurological effects may be permanent. If people develop symptoms of severe West Nile Virus illness, seek medical attention immediately.

April and May were cool, dry months in Saskatchewan, resulting in fewer mosquitoes hatching and delaying development of mosquito populations by approximately two weeks. With more moisture in the first week in June and increasing temperatures, it is anticipated that mosquito activity will increase through the WNV risk season, which is typically the end of June through early September.

The new WNV risk map will be posted every Tuesday until the end of the risk season. Residents can find the risk map as well as information on personal protection measures and illness surveillance results at www.health.gov.sk.ca/west-nile-virus.

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For more information, contact:

Karen Hill
Health
Regina
Phone: 306-787-4083
Email: khill@health.gov.sk.ca

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