Toronto mosquitoes test positive for West Nile Virus
This 2006 photo made available by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows a female Aedes aegypti mosquito acquiring a blood meal from a human host at the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/ AP - Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - James Gathany)
Published Wednesday, July 4, 2012 9:01AM EDT
Mosquitoes carrying the West Nile Virus have been found in Toronto for the first time this year, Toronto Public Health has confirmed.
Tests conducted on Tuesday found that some mosquitoes caught in the city’s 43 mosquito traps tested positive for West Nile Virus. Last year’s first positive reading came on July 15.
“This finding of mosquitoes carrying West Nile Virus is earlier in the season than previous years,” Dr. Howard Shapiro said in a statement. “It is a good reminder for the public to protect themselves from mosquito bites, and to reduce mosquito breeding grounds by draining standing water around your home.”
Toronto Public Heath sends mosquitoes from across the city for laboratory testing every week. It also uses larvicides, set in roadside catch basins, to reduce the pest population.
West Nile Virus can be spread to humans who are bitten by mosquitoes infected with the virus.
About 80 per cent of those bitten by an infected mosquito won't become noticeably ill. The vast majority of those with the virus might experience chills, headaches, muscle aches, nausea and vomiting.
Less than one infected person in 1,000 dies or develops a neurological disease such as brain inflammation or paralysis of one or more limbs.
West Nile Virus was first found in Toronto in 2001. In 2002, there were 163 known cases of human infection, and 11 deaths.
The number of human cases of West Nile Virus in Toronto has been declining since the virus was first diagnosed in 2002.
Toronto Public Heath said 28 human cases of West Nile Virus were diagnosed in Toronto last year.
Ontario’s The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care reported 71 human cases across the province Ontario, including a Burlington woman in her 70s who died after contracting the virus.
Toronto Public Health recommends using mosquito repellent approved by Health Canada, wearing light-coloured clothing and covering up in areas where mosquitoes are present.