The West Nile Virus in Ontario
By now you’ve probably seen all the reports on the news about the impending West Nile Virus breakout coming to Ontario. It’s a serious issue and we believe the best way to combat it is through knowledge and awareness.
In case you’ve been out of the loop enjoying the summer here’s a report from CBC News that will get you up to speed:
What is the West Nile Virus?
West Nile Virus is an infection of the brain, known as encephalitis which was first identified in Uganda in 1937. It’s common in Africa, West Asia and the Middle East. West Nile is commonly spread by mosquitoes. There is currently no evidence that states that West Nile can be spread from person to person.
What are the symptoms of West Nile Virus?
The problem with West Nile is that symptoms are usually mild and end up going untreated. Some symptoms include:
- Body aches
- Skin rash
- Swollen lymph nodes
Symptoms of severe cases include:
- Stiff neck
Severe cases only affect about 1% of sufferers.
How do people get West Nile Virus?
West Nile virus is spread by mosquitoes and their bites. Mosquitoes become infected when they feed on birds that are also infected. West Nile can also be spread by birds , which can amplify the spread of the disease when mosquitoes feed on the infected birds. Crows are most commonly infected, although more than 200 bird species have been confirmed carriers of the virus.
Mosquitoes spread the disease when they bite and suck blood from people and animals. The incubation period (the time from infection to development of symptoms is five to 15 days.
As mentioned above West Nile virus is not contagious between humans, one cannot get the virus from touching or kissing an infected person
What kinds if treatments are available for the West Nile Virus?
Diagnosis of West Nile virus is confirmed with a blood or cerebrospinal fluid test. There is not specific treatment available at the time. Most treatment is directed towrd relief efforts and complications of brain infections. Over the counter medication can be used in milder cases to help relieve pain such as Advil or Aspirin.
In more severe cases anti-inflammatory medications, intravenous fluids and intensive medical monitoring may be prescribed.
What can you do to prevent West Nile Virus in your community?
Here’s what we recommend to help prevent catching West Nile virus:
- Try to stay indoors at dawn, dusk and the early evening, this is when mosquitoes usually come out to feed
- Wear long sleeved shirts and pants to prevent getting bit
- Apply insect replant to any exposed skin. An effective repelant contains 20%-30% DEET (N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide). DEET concentrations higher than 30% may cause side effects especially with children and babies. Avoid applying repelant to very young children as they may get in their mouths and eyes.
- Spray thin clothing with repellent containing perminthirin or DEET to prevent mosquitoes from biting through thin clothing.
- Install or secure door and window screens, use air conditioning and remove any standing water.
- If you find a dead bird make sure you have it removed as soon as possible to prevent mosquitoes from gathering around it and picking up the virus.
Here’s what you can do for your neighborhood
- Remove any standing water from your block. This can be close to drains, bird baths and inside gutters.
- Take note of the bird population in your area. If you see an increase, make sure to take extra personal precautions as they can easilr5y become new virus spreaders.
Although we do not specialize in the removal of mosquitoes, we can help you with your bird removal needs which is a crucial part of West Nile prevention.
Birds are usually classified as pests when they make their nests people’s properties They tend to foul everything they land on with their droppings, which may lead to health hazards. Therefore, there is the need to remove them from our homes without causing harm to them. In Ontario most birds, including their nests and eggs are protected under law – The Migratory Bird Treaty. However there are three birds indigenous to North America that are considered nuisance pests and are not protected under law. They are the Sparrow, Starling and Pigeon. They are over populated in Toronto and the GTA, however they must be humanely removed.