Personal precaution best method to help reduce West Nile Virus risk for Northern BC residents

Personal precautions will be the most effective way for Northern BC residents to protect themselves from West Nile Virus (WNV) this summer.

Although there has not yet been a confirmed case of WNV originating in BC, health officials across the province will be monitoring for the virus and taking steps to prevent illness.

“We have yet to see West Nile Virus arrive in Northern BC and other parts of the province, but it’s important to be thinking now of ways to reduce mosquito habitat,” says Dr. Lorna Medd, Medical Health Officer. “Being ahead of the game by cleaning up standing water around the yard will help eliminate breeding sites for mosquito carriers later in the season.”

Personal protection is also important in reducing the risk of WNV.

“Despite efforts at mosquito control this season by municipalities and regional districts, there will still be large areas across the North which will not be covered through preventive measures,” says Dr. Medd. “Residents can help to further protect themselves by taking steps such as wearing long-sleeved clothing and pants when outside and applying DEET-based repellant.”

West Nile Virus is a disease that infects birds, animals, and humans.

Mosquitoes typically transmit the virus. However, the risk of contracting it is very low.

Even in areas where the virus is active, less than one per cent of mosquitoes carry it. In the North, the risk is even lower since the mosquito species that most effectively carries the virus is not very common in the region.

“Although the general mosquito season is right around the corner, it’s important to note that the actual type of mosquito which carries the West Nile Virus will not actually show up until later in the summer – from July to September,” said Dr. Medd, “which is when there will be much more of a risk for this disease.”

For more information about West Nile Virus, visit www.northernhealth.ca