TORONTO, Ont. – The West Nile virus has surfaced in mosquitoes for the first time this year, according to Toronto public health officials.
While the virus is not new to the city, this year’s mid-July surfacing comes significantly earlier than last year, when the first positive test results were discovered at the beginning of August.
Health officials told 680News the positive test in no reason for people to panic, and said the risk of anyone becoming infected with West Nile is low. As a matter of fact, health officials said many people who contract the virus are never even aware they have it.
Regardless, the positive test result means it is important to educate and protect yourself from the pesky insects.
“(You should take) protective measures, such as wearing an insect repellant that’s been approved by Health Canada,” said Dr. Howard Shapiro, Toronto’s Associate Medical Officer. “Get rid of any standing water that’s going to be there for longer than a few days.”
Mosquitoes are most active between dusk and dawn, and Shapiro said using this knowledge to your advantage is key.
“The message that we’re trying to convey is to be aware of when mosquitoes are around, and try and take a few simple measures that you can use to reduce your risk of them biting you,” Shapiro said.
Other measures against the insects include wearing light colour clothing and ensuring the windows in your homes have screens.
Toronto Public Health has 43 bug traps located around the city, and sends trapped mosquitoes for precautionary testing every week.
There was only one confirmed human case of West Nile virus in Toronto last year, and there have been no deaths from the virus since 2005.
There have been no reported cases of the West Nile virus in the Durham, Peel or Halton Region this year.
More information on the mosquito prevention and the West Nile Virus can be found on the City of Toronto’s website.