Hamilton issues warning about higher risk of West Nile virus


Published July 28, 2023 at 10:09 am

Hamiltonians are asked to take precautions as the risk of West Nile virus has increased. Older adults and those with weaker immune systems are most vulnerable to developing severe symptoms.

“In the warmer months it is important to take precautions to avoid illnesses spread by insects including West Nile Virus and Lyme disease,” said Dr. Bart Harvey, associate medical officer of health, in a statement today (July 28).  . “Employing simple preventive measures such as using insect repellent containing DEET or Icaridin, and wearing loose fitting, light-colored clothing will reduce your risk while you enjoy the outdoors.” 

Hamilton’s Medical Officer of Health upgraded the risk from low to moderate after a batch of mosquitoes in the city tested positive for the virus.

These are the first ones that tested positive in Hamilton this year. As part of Hamilton’s West Nile Virus surveillance and prevention program, the City has recently completed a second round of larviciding treatments on street catch basins. It’s also treating surface waters on public land.

Residents are advised to protect themselves against mosquito bites and to remove standing water to prevent mosquito breeding.

Ways to avoid mosquito bites

About 80 per cent of people infected with West Nile virus don’t have symptoms. However, older adults or those with weakened immune systems may experience West Nile fever or they may develop severe illness including inflammation of the brain or the lining of the brain, according to the City. 

For the minority of people infected, symptoms usually appear two to 14 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito. 

To avoid being bitten by mosquitoes, the City advises people to use a mosquito repellent or bug spray containing DEET or Icaridin. Avoid areas where mosquitoes are usually found or cover up by wearing light-coloured long sleeves and long pants when in areas such as wooded places, on the golf course, or in the garden, especially at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active. At least once a week, remove standing water from your property to prevent breeding.

For more information on West Nile virus, visit www.hamilton.ca/westnile or call 905-546-2489.

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