With summer in full swing, Alberta Health Services wants to remind everyone about making sure they protect themselves from West Nile Virus.

Dr. Jason Cabaj, Medical Officer of Health for Alberta Health Services Calgary Zone, says prevention measures are crucial, as there is no treatment for the virus contracted from mosquito bites.

"There is no treatment, so the real focus with West Nile is on prevention as the season gets underway. We want to remind everyone to focus on preventing bites as they're able to," he said.

Dr. Cabaj says taking a few simple precautions when enjoying outdoor activities can go a long way for protection, including wearing long-sleeved, light-coloured shirts, long pants and hats, as well as using insect repellent with deet.

It is also advised to avoid the outdoors at dawn and dusk, as mosquitoes are most active at these times.

Dr. Cabaj, says it's also important to watch out for our pets, if they're joining the outdoor activities.

"Fortunately, the only way people can be infected is through mosquitoes, other animals can be infected, but can't transmit it to people and people can't transmit it to each other," said Cabaj.

From 2003 to 2017, 514 cases of West Nile Virus were confirmed in Alberta, many of which were acquired right here in the province.

After a bite from an infected mosquito, humans can develop West Nile Non-Neurological Syndrome, (formerly West Nile Fever,) or the more serious West Nile Neurological Syndrome.

Symptoms of the Non- Neurological Syndrome cause discomfort, and can include fever, chills, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, skin rash, swollen glands and headache.

For the more serious Neurological Syndrome, individuals can experience much more severe symptoms, including tremors, drowsiness, confusion, swallowing problems, high fever, unconsciousness, paralysis and in some cases, death.

Further information on the West Nile Virus can be found at www.fightthebite.info, or by calling Health Link at 811.


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