Toronto Public Health (TPH) has confirmed the city’s first reported case of West Nile virus in 2021 in an adult resident.

West Nile virus is an illness that is transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito. Symptoms usually develop between two and 14 days after a person is bitten by an infected mosquito.

Symptoms may include fever, headache, nausea, vomiting, body aches, skin rash and swollen lymph glands. Older individuals or individuals with compromised immune systems are at higher risk of severe illness. A person who has concerns about any symptoms should contact their health care provider.

“While the risk of being infected with West Nile virus remains low in our city, now is a good time to remind residents of prevention steps they can take while enjoying the outside to minimize the likelihood of getting bitten by an infected mosquito that include using insect repellent and wearing light-coloured clothing, long pants and long-sleeved shirts when headed outside to protect themselves from infected mosquito bites,” said Dr. Eileen de Villa, Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health.

TPH is advising residents to take the following precautions to avoid bites from infected mosquitoes:
• Wear light-coloured clothing, long pants and long-sleeved shirts when outdoors.
• Apply insect repellent containing DEET or icaridin and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
• Take extra care during peak mosquito-biting hours, dusk and dawn, by using repellent and covering up.
• Make sure your home has tight-fitting screens on windows and doors.
• Remove standing water from your property, where mosquitoes can breed. Standing water includes any water that collects in items such as pool covers, buckets, planters, toys and waste containers.

In 2020, a total of 33 laboratory-confirmed human cases of West Nile virus were reported to TPH.

TPH conducts mosquito surveillance and monitoring from mid-June until mid-September every year, which includes larviciding city catch basis and stagnant water sites where larvae have been identified.

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