Hamilton residents face high risk of catching West Nile virus

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Published September 5, 2023 at 2:53 pm

Hamilton has raised the risk of West Nile virus from moderate to high after its public health unit confirmed the city’s first human case this summer.

“It is important to take precautions to avoid illnesses spread by insects including West Nile Virus, Lyme disease, and Eastern equine encephpalitis,” said Dr. Bart Harvey, associate medical officer of health, in a statement. “The risk of these infections will drop once there is a heavy frost that reduces the number of mosquitoes.” 

The City is asking residents to protect themselves against mosquito bites and to remove standing water from private property to prevent mosquito breeding. 

About 80 per cent of people infected with West Nile virus will have no symptoms. However, older adults or those with weakened immune systems may experience West Nile fever or they may develop more severe illness including inflammation of the brain or the lining of the brain. 

Symptoms could appear two to 14 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito, according to the City. 

Residents can take the following precautions to avoid mosquito bites:

  • Use a mosquito repellent (bug spray) containing DEET or Icaridin.
  • Avoid areas where mosquitoes are known to be present or cover up by wearing light-coloured long sleeves and long pants when in mosquito areas such as wooded areas, on the golf course, or in the garden, especially at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active.
  • Reduce mosquito breeding sites by removing standing water (even if it’s shallow) at least weekly from your property.

“Hamilton Public Health Services continually assesses the risk for human illness as part of a comprehensive West Nile Virus surveillance and prevention program,” the City stated in a press release today (Sept. 5).

The City said it has finished three rounds of larviciding treatments on street catch basins. It has also treated surface waters on public land.

The first positive tests of mosquitoes this year were announced in July.

For more information on West Nile virus and the City’s mosquito control program, visit www.hamilton.ca/westnile or call 905-546-2489.

 

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