Don't let the bugs get you down!

August 17, 2015

First of all, you should know that the risk of getting West Nile Virus (WNV) in Alberta increases during late August to mid-September. 

This year has brought us "back up to what is considered normal for the mosquito population," said Mike Jenkins, a biological sciences technician with Edmonton's city's parks branch. Jenkins noted that the mosquitoes that will be a problem are the ones that are faster and a more stealthy biter. These usually aren't seen during the day, though, because they don't like sunlight.

A mosquito-borne virus that can cause symptoms such as fever, headache, skin rashes and swelling, West Nile Virus can turn out to be very serious.  However, while there are over 40 different types of mosquitoes in Alberta, only three of them carry the virus. This small percentage of mosquitoes carry the virus, and only a small number of people bitten by infected mosquitoes will ever develop critical or serious illness.
 But you should note than in some very rare cases, the virus can cause a much more serious West Nile neurological syndrome.
  Symptoms of West Nile Virus syndrome occur within 3 – 15 days of being bitten. The risk of serious illness increases with age. So if you become ill this summer and have a long-lasting fever, headache, skin rashes or swelling, visit your family physician.

  So 
it certainly never hurts to play it safe around these little pests, virus or no virus. Everyone can take thhe following simple precautions to reduce their own risk.

 
* Use a mosquito repellent containing DEET or other approved ingredients on exposed skin; apply it to clothing as well, because mosquitoes can bite through fabric.

 * Wear long-sleeved shirts and pants during peak mosquito times - dawn and dusk.

 * Place mosquito netting over infant carriers when outdoors.

 * Make sure there is no standing water in your yard where mosquitoes can lay their eggs. Look for any place where water can collect. This can be a bird-bath, unattended pet watering bowl, inflatable wading pool, fish-pond, old tire, plastic tarp or bucket. Do not let water stand in these places for more than seven days.

 * Avoid excessive lawn watering. Save water – and keep mosquitoes down!

 * Mosquito coils, citronella candles, lanterns and other devices are only truly effective if used properly. This may mean placing several of them around patio tables, changing or replacing cartridges regularly, and following directions.

  
For even more information on West Nile virus, visit Alberta Health Services' website dedicated to West Nile awareness, at:
www.fightthebite.info.

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