City abuzz with West Nile fears...
According to laboratory reports received by Toronto Public Health, this year could be a bad year for West Nile infections. 24 mosquitoes from 43 traps set up in various locations throughout the city tested positive for the dreaded West Nile virus (WNV). This is the highest recorded rate at this point of the season. Usually, WNV is a late summer phenomenon. Last year's mild winter and subsequent hot weather may be blamed for the spike.
So what are we to do? How can we prevent the spread of WNV? While the city treats 120,000 drain sites and catch basin with larvicide, you can do your share by eliminating standing water containers which are breeding grounds for mosquitoes around your home. Furthermore, public health is asking you to report any dead birds in your area since birds can carry the virus. The number to call is 416-338-7600.
Other precautions include...wearing long sleeves and pants in light colours, avoiding dusk and dawn times if possible, using insect repellents and seeing your health care provider if you suspect that you may have symptoms of WNV.
But not all is doom and gloom. Four out of five people bitten by a virus-carrying mosquito will experience no symptoms nor will become ill. Just like with the common cold and flu, the immune system takes care of the invaders. So your best ally is, you guessed it, a well functioning immune system.
For more information on the West Nile Virus and on strengthening your immune system, check out the following:
- West Nile Virus Fact Sheet - Toronto Public Health
- Status of West Nile Virus - Toronto Public Health