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West Nile virus season is underway. Here’s how a Waterloo region public health official suggests you stay safe | CBC News

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It’s West Nile virus season and while Waterloo region has not seen any pools of water test positive for it, officials say people should still do what they can to avoid mosquito bites.

Marla Rocca is the region’s manager of health protection and investigation and said that despite not having any positive pools this year, “we have had positive mosquito pools in the past.”

West Nile virus is transmitted through the bite of a mosquito which has fed on an infected bird. The province’s website says four out of five people won’t show any symptoms.

Approximately one in 150 people will have serious symptoms, which can include a high fever, muscle weakness, confusion, numbness and a sudden sensitivity to light.

9 positive pools

Public Health Ontario says so far this summer, there have been nine pools that have tested positive for West Nile virus throughout the province. That includes one in Brantford.

None have been in Waterloo region, Guelph or Wellington County.

Ontario has seen an abundance of rain this summer, the combination of warm and wet weather has made for excellent mosquito breeding conditions, Rocca said.

hands hold a petrie dish filled with mosquitos
Mosquito pools in southern Ontario have started testing positive for West Nile virus. A Waterloo regional health official said there have been positive pools in the past, but so far none this year in the area. The closest positive pool to the region is in Brantford, with four more in Toronto. (Kory Siegers/CBC )

But, Rocca added, not all mosquitoes in an infected pool are carriers of West Nile.

“Certain mosquitoes can carry the virus and if those mosquitoes bite us, they can then potentially give us the virus,” she said.

Remove standing water

To avoid potentially viral mosquitos, Rocca said people should wear light-coloured clothing, hats, socks, and closed-toed shoes.

“Avoid the outdoors at dawn and dusk, and use an insect repellent with DEET or icaridin,” she said.

Around the home, it’s a good idea to use screens “to keep mosquitoes outside, ensuring there’s no holes.”

Another method Rocca mentioned was for people to remove standing water from around their homes as this type of still water is where mosquitoes and their larvae can thrive. 

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