August 22, 2005

Probable human case of West Nile Virus in York Region

NEWMARKET - Preliminary tests indicate that a probable human case of West Nile Virus (WNV) in York Region has been identified.
The individual - a 55 year-old male from Thornhill - is recovering at home.  Tests to confirm the presence of the virus 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 human cases of West Nile Virus in Ontario this year.  York Region has reported 12 positive birds and one positive mosquito pool to date.  There were no human cases reported in York Region last year.
“This finding is not a surprise,” said Dr. Helena Jaczek, Commissioner of York Region Health Services and Medical Officer of Health.  “West Nile Virus activity has been identified already in the bird and mosquito populations in York Region this season.  Human cases were anticipated."
“Personal protection from mosquitoes is still the best method to avoid exposure to the virus,” added Dr. Jaczek.  "This new information on a human case should act as a reminder for residents to take the appropriate protective measures.”
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.  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 one 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.
There are simple and common sense precautions that should be taken:
• Wear protective clothing such as long sleeved shirts, full-length trousers, socks, light coloured clothing and high boots
• Use a repellent containing DEET, as directed
• Minimize outdoor activities where and when mosquitoes are most active such as dusk, night and dawn
• Make sure screens on your home are tight-fitting and in good repair
• Mosquitoes breed in still water.  Eliminate standing water around your property which may gather in pool covers, flower pots, children’s pools, old tires and birdbaths
For more information on West Nile Virus or any health-related concern, contact York Region Health Services Health Connection at 1-800-361-5653 or visit

Contact:  Jennifer Churchill, York Region Health Services
   905-830-4444 Ext. 4018

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