West Nile Virus detected in Leeds, Grenville and Lanark area: health unit

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The West Nile Virus (WNV) has been detected in the South Grenville area, the Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit reports.

In a media release, the health unit says that the virus was found in a bald eagle.

“It is unknown if the bird acquired the virus locally or not,” the release says.

West Nile virus circulates in the environment between mosquitoes and birds and sometimes is spread to humans through the bite of infected mosquitoes. Humans can not pass the virus onto mosquitoes that are not infected because we do not produce enough virus in our bloodstream.  

The majority of human WNV cases do not show symptoms. About 20 per cent of infected people may have a mild flu-like illness with fever, headache, and body aches, occasionally with a skin rash and swollen lymph nodes or other non-specific symptoms that last several days. Other symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, or eye pain. Less than one percent of infected people will develop neuro-invasive disease, with older age groups and males disproportionately affected. 

During the summer months and early fall, the health unit sets traps throughout the region to gather mosquito specimens for WNV testing. In 2023, no mosquitos tested in the Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit were positive for WNV.   

The health unit has offered the following tips on how to avoid becoming infected.

  • Take precautions to avoid mosquito bites
  • Cover up when going outside between the hours of dusk and dawn 
  • Use insect repellant containing DEET or icaridin, following manufacturer’s instructions 
  • Remove brush and standing water from property as they use this as a habitat 
  • Humans cannot get WNV directly from birds, but is best to avoid interacting with dead birds if possible
  • If a bird is found on your property, use a shovel and gloves to pick it up and double bag it. 

For additional information on protection measures against West Nile virus such as reducing mosquito breeding sites and the safe use of insect repellents, please visit www.publichealthontario.ca or https://healthunit.org/health-information/home-health-safety/insect-bites-diseases/ 

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