September 27, 2002

Probable human cases of West Nile Virus in York Region

NEWMARKET - Preliminary tests indicate that three probable human cases of West Nile Virus (WNV) in York Region have been identified.

All individuals – a 59-year-old Richmond Hill man, a 55-year-old Markham woman and a 31-year-old female visitor to Thornhill – are currently recovering at home and none have required hospitalization. Confirmatory tests will be conducted at Health Canada’s National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg, with results expected in about two weeks.

To date there have been nine confirmed human cases of West Nile Virus in Ontario. The death of a Mississauga resident on September 14th has been linked to the virus.

"This finding is not a surprise," said Dr. Hanif Kassam, York Region’s Associate Medical Officer of Health and Director, Public Health Programs. "Both positive birds and mosquitoes have been identified in York Region this season.

"Residents can be reassured that the risk of coming into contact with West Nile Virus is minimal and that personal protection from mosquitoes is still the best method to avoid exposure to the virus," added Dr. Kassam. "As a result of this new information on human cases, people should maintain increased vigilance."

West Nile Virus is a viral disease that can be spread to the human population by mosquitoes, which contract the disease after biting an infected bird. The WNV can cause illness in humans, especially the elderly and immune compromised population. Humans cannot get the virus from another person, animal or bird.

In most people, exposure will result in no symptoms. Others may have mild flu-like symptoms or a rash. In more serious cases – less than 1 per cent of all infected individuals – encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) can occur, causing severe muscle weakness, headache, stiff neck, vomiting, nausea and eventual deterioration of consciousness or mental state.

Residents are reminded of the following precautions:

Personal Protection

Around the Home


For more information, please call York Region Health Services Health Connection

at 1-800-361-5653.

For more information on the Regional Municipality of York, the services we offer and links to our nine area municipalities, please visit our Web site at


For additional information about this media release contact:

The Regional Municipality of York is committed to providing cost-effective, quality services that respond to the needs of our rapidly growing communities.  York Region is comprised of the following nine area municipalities:  Aurora, East Gwillimbury, Georgina, King, Markham, Newmarket, Richmond Hill, Vaughan and Whitchurch-Stouffville.  For more information, visit our Web site at:

Contact: Patrick Casey, Senior Media Relations Specialist, York Region

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