West Nile virus tally continues to climb in Toronto
The West Nile virus is transmitted mainly through mosquito bite. (Image Quebec government documentation)
Published Thursday, September 6, 2012 11:50AM EDT
A total of 62 human cases of West Nile virus have been detected in Toronto, more than double the number of cases reported in 2011.
Officials with Toronto Public Health report that 20 people have been hospitalized as a result of the virus over the summer, five of whom remain in hospital.
An update provided by the agency on Thursday shows 19 cases of West Nile virus have been confirmed, while 43 are considered probable human cases.
It’s the highest number reported in the city in the past decade, according to authorities.
Last year, Toronto saw a total of 28 human cases of the virus.
Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health Dr. David McKeown said while most people infected with the virus will recover, some can experience serious health problems.
“In rare cases it can be fatal,” McKeown said in a statement released last week.
West Nile virus affects about one in five people who are bitten by an infected mosquito.
Those infected experience fever, headache, rash and fatigue that can last a week or longer.
About one in 100 cases of West Nile virus can cause an infection in the central nervous system, usually in the brain, which can be fatal.
Earlier this week, Public Health Ontario reported 116 confirmed and probable cases of the virus in the province.
Ontario has the highest level of West Nile activity in Canada, as the number of cases climbed 41 per cent over the past week.
Other Ontario hot spots include Windsor-Essex and Halton Region.
Canadian Blood Services is currently using enhanced screening procedures in Hamilton, London, Ont., and Winnipeg because they've recently detected donations that were positive for West Nile virus at blood clinics in those centres, a spokesperson for the agency said Wednesday.
Members of the public are urged to protect themselves from mosquito bites by using repellent, covering up and going indoors at dusk and dawn, when mosquitoes are most active.
With files from The Canadian Press