West Nile Virus Risks Rise! How to Protect Yourself and Your Family!

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West Nile Virus Risks Rise!  How to Protect Yourself and Your Family!

As the mercury rises, so does the West Nile risk.    

20 Jul 2016  by Pamela Cowan  Leader-Post  

 

 

With temperatures heating up, there has been an increase of Culex tarsalis mosquitoes — the species of skeeters that carry the West Nile virus (WNV).   

   

One pool of infected WNV mosquitoes has been found in southern Saskatchewan, where the risk is moderate, said Phil Curry, an entomologist and the provincial WNV co-ordinator with the Ministry of Health.

“Ironically, that heavy rain event (earlier in the month) temporarily reduced Culex tarsalis activity,” Curry said. “They’re not flying on cold nights, either. Even in areas where they’ve experienced heavy flooding, that will actually reduce the habitat. It’s really disruptive and everything really slows down. But now that the water is receding and we’re getting warm, humid weather, we’re going to start to see a rise again of Culex tarsalis and West Nile activity.”

Culex tarsalis are stealth mosquitoes. You might not see them, but their mission is to put the bite on you — particularly between dusk and dawn.

“On warm, humid nights, they’ll be very active,” Curry said. “We’re encouraging people to take precautions. Enjoy the weather, but try to not get bitten.”

To gear up in the fight against Culex tarsalis,

  • apply insect repellent containing DEET and
  • wear light-coloured, loose fitting, longsleeved tops and pants.                
  • It’s also important in the battle to avoid bites to reduce the amount of time you spend outdoors between dusk and dawn.

To ensure your backyard doesn’t become a battleground where Culex tarsalis dominate, eliminate standing water so they can’t lay their eggs. “Culex tarsalis just keep having generation after generation at this time of the year,” Curry said.

He noted there has been a decline in nuisance mosquitoes. “They were really bad earlier on in areas like Regina, but they’ve really been reduced in numbers and that’s partially because, in Regina for example, the mosquito control program has been effective.”

But, he expects that will change when the hot weather results in another hatch of Culex tarsalis mosquitoes.

To reduce the risk of contracting WNV, regularly clean and empty containers, such as bird baths and eavestroughs, and clear yards of old tires and other items that hold water.                                                                                                                                                                                                                         “Make sure that the screens on your doors and windows are in good shape,” Curry said.

“When you come in the evening, these mosquitoes will be waiting outside your door and they are attracted to the light. If they get into your house, then they’ve got all night to bite you.”


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