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Tips for avoiding mosquito bites and protecting yourself against West Nile: AHS

WATCH (July 18, 2018): There have been more than 500 cases of the West Nile virus in Alberta over the past 15 years, and mid-summer is the peak time for transmission. As Gil Tucker reports, residents are being urged to take steps to protect against the potentially deadly virus.

Alberta Health Services is reminding people that their best protection against West Nile is to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes entirely.

“Some mosquitoes carry West Nile virus,” AHS Medical Officer of Health Dr. Shobhit Maruti said Monday. “With exposure to mosquitoes comes risk of West Nile virus.”

READ MORE: Watch out Alberta – this season may see a surge of insects

On Monday, the health agency offered some tips on shielding yourself from bites when you’re outside:

  • Wear a long-sleeved, light-coloured shirt, pants and a hat
  • Use an approved insect repellent (e.g. products containing DEET or Icaridin)
  • Consider staying indoors at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active

“These steps can make it harder for mosquitoes to find you,” Maruti said.

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“If mosquitoes can’t find you, they can’t bite you.”

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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.

READ MORE: Tick forecast 2018: Experts predict more Lyme disease in Canada

Symptoms of the non-neurological syndrome can include fever, chills, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, skin rash, swollen glands and headache. Symptoms of the neurological syndrome can include tremors, drowsiness, confusion, swallowing problems, high fever, unconsciousness, paralysis and even death.

From 2003 to 2018, 532 cases of West Nile virus were confirmed in Alberta, many of which were acquired in the province and not travel-related. Of all of these cases, 458 were non-neurological syndrome.

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