Conditions ripe for West Nile
Published Wednesday, August 15, 2012 5:28PM MDT
Last Updated Wednesday, August 15, 2012 7:23PM MDT
Almost 700 cases of West Nile virus have been reported in a number of states south of the border and 28 people have died as a result.
Here in Alberta there have been no reported cases of the virus so far but health officials say that could change.
AHS says that the spread of the virus to humans is dependent on the activity of Culex tarsalis mosquitoes which are most active during July and August.
The mosquitoes need those hot days to mature and they breed in permanent bodies of water rather than temporary ponds.
The city says it has a number of traps out around the city to keep track of mosquito populations, but says the numbers are below average right now.
Alberta Health Services says you still need to avoid being bitten because the virus is dangerous.
“High fever, may develop a stiff neck, confusion, paralysis, decreased level of consciousness, that's the more severe neurological West Nile syndrome, and that can happen in one of 150 people bitten by an infected mosquito,” said Dr. Judy MacDonald.
Dr. MacDonald says even though there have been no cases of West Nile reported in Alberta so far this summer, she says people need to be cautious when they travel.
Symptoms of the most common form of West Nile virus (non-neurological syndrome) include:
- A possible skin rash
- Swollen glands
Symptoms usually occur within two to 14 days of infection, but many people who become infected show no symptoms at all.
The more serious, and less common, West Nile neurologic syndrome infects a smaller number of people and can cause tremors, vomiting, nausea, drowsiness, confusion, swallowing problems, high fever and decreased level of consciousness and/or paralysis.
For more information on West Nile, visit the Alberta Health Services website.