Ontarians Reminded To Protect Themselves Against Mosquitoes and Ticks
Reduce The Risk Of West Nile Virus And Lyme Disease
Mosquito pools testing positive for the West Nile virus are on the rise across the province and Ontarians need to continue taking proper precautions to reduce their risk of contracting the virus.
Dr. Arlene King, Ontario's Chief Medical Officer of Health, is reminding Ontarians to continue protecting themselves from mosquito bites by:
- wearing light-coloured clothing, long-sleeved shirts, long pants, socks and shoes when outdoors;
- using insect repellent containing DEET, and follow the directions carefully;
- avoiding the outdoors at dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active; and
- repairing or replacing screens on windows and doors to avoid mosquitoes entering your home.
It is also important for Ontarians to reduce prime breeding grounds for mosquitoes by draining standing water from around their home on a regular basis.
Most people who contract West Nile virus will experience mild illness including fever, headache, body ache, nausea, vomiting and rash on the chest, stomach or back. More serious symptoms can include muscle weakness, stiff neck, confusion, tremors, numbness and sudden sensitivity to light. Symptoms usually develop between two and 15 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito.
Ontarians are also reminded to be aware of the dangers from tick bites. Lyme disease is a rare but serious illness that can be spread to humans by the bite of an infected tick. The risk of getting Lyme disease is low, but complications, if infection is left untreated, can affect the heart, nervous system and joints.
There are several ways to prevent tick bites:
- wear light-coloured clothing, long-sleeved shirts, long pants, socks and shoes when outdoors;
- tuck pants into socks;
- use insect repellent containing DEET and follow the directions carefully; and
- when hiking, stay on paths and avoid contact with overgrown brush.
People should also search their body for ticks at least once a day if they are in an area of the province where they are at an increased risk of exposure to Lyme disease-associated ticks. If a tick is located on their body, they should use tweezers to remove it. Grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible and pull it straight out, gently but firmly. The tick should be saved alive in a jar or screw-top bottle and taken to the local Public Health Unit for testing.
- Forty-three positive mosquito pools have been found to date this year, which is higher than the numbers reported during the same time period over the last four years.
- One travel-related human case of West Nile virus has been reported in 2011 to date.
- Since 2008, cases of Lyme disease in Ontario have remained stable at approximately 100 per year.
- Forty-one confirmed and probable cases of Lyme disease, including travel-related cases, have been reported to date this year, which is less than the number reported during the same time period in 2009 and 2010.
“The risk of contracting West Nile virus and Lyme disease is low providing people take the appropriate precautions to protect themselves. I encourage Ontarians to continue taking the precautions that are necessary to prevent mosquito and tick bites.”
Dr. Arlene King