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