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Human case of West Nile virus confirmed in Sarnia-Lambton

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Troy Shantz

Sarnia-Lambton has its first lab-confirmed human case of West Nile virus this year.

The patient was hospitalized but was recovering from the mosquito-transmitted virus, Lambton Public Health said last week.

“Summer is winding down but mosquitos are still very active,” said Lori Lucas, supervisor of health protection.

Fifty-four Ontarians have contracted the virus this year, including 20 cases and one death in Windsor-Essex.

A bite from an infected mosquito can make you sick, although the vast majority of those infected report no symptoms.

About 20% develop a fever with symptoms including headaches, body aches and a rash within two to 15 days, Lucas said.

In a small percentage of cases, especially older adults and those with weakened immune systems, the symptoms can escalate to severe body aches, nausea, vomiting, paralysis and death.

Anyone with intensifying symptoms should visit a doctor right away, Lucas said

West Nile virus was first identified in the West Nile region of Uganda in 1937. It arrived in North America in 1999 and reached Lambton County three years later.

Prevention is key, Lucas said. Until the first frost, people in places with mosquitoes should cover their arms and legs and wear bug spray containing DEET or Picaridin.

Removing standing water around the yard can help prevent mosquitoes from breeding.

For more, call the West Nile virus info line at 519-383-3824 or toll-free at 1-800-667-1839, ext. 3824, or visit www.lambtonhealth.on.ca for more on mosquitoes and prevention.

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