July 8, 2014 7:59 pm

Mosquito that can carry West Nile virus found in Saskatoon

Watch the video above: First Culex tarsalis mosquito trapped in Saskatoon, nuisance mosquito numbers up

SASKATOON – The first Culex tarsalis mosquito of 2014 has been caught in a City of Saskatoon trap. These are the type which can carry West Nile virus.

The number of nuisance mosquitoes are also on the rise, increasing from 10 found in traps the last week in June and 81 caught the first week in July.

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“Typically nuisance mosquitoes increase in numbers right around this time of year and into early July,” said Jeff Boone, the city’s pest management entomologist.

The city’s mosquito program treats all standing water with a biological pesticide to reduce larval mosquitoes. Boone said getting them before they’ve hatched is the most effective treatment. Larvacide is considered a proactive and more environmentally-friendly approach than fog, which is used to manage adult mosquitoes.

The City of Saskatoon hasn’t fogged in at least 15 years.

“If conditions are favourable for Culex tarsalis and there’s a high level of West Nile circulating in the environment, we will consider fogging, but only in those cases,” according to Boone who says the last time the City came close to using the malathion fog was 2007.

The cities of Regina and Prince Albert follow the same guidelines as Saskatoon.

So how can you fight the nuisance bugs? Pharmacist Kelly Kizlyk doesn’t shy away from mosquito repellent.

“The gold standard is DEET. It has been around for years, it has been studied,” she said.

The percentage of DEET in a repellent is not a measurement of how effective the product is, which many people assume, according to Kizlyk. The amount is an indication of how long the product lasts before needing to reapply.

Kyzlyk also stresses the benefits of DEET repellent outweigh the risk of contracting West Nile virus.

For most, the infection is minor. Up to 20 per cent experience no symptoms and do not get sick.

Others can display a range of symptoms including fever, headache, body aches, nausea, vomiting and sometimes swollen lymph glands or a skin rash on the chest, stomach and back.

Less than one per cent of people will develop a more serious illness called West Nile neurological syndrome. This syndrome includes encephalitis which is an inflammation of the brain. Symptoms can include high fever, headache, neck stiffness, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, vision loss, numbness, paralysis and even death.

Although the number of nuisance mosquitoes has spiked, Boone suggests they have yet to peak based on past years.

As for Culex tarsalis, it is most prevalent at the end of July and throughout August.

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