Toronto Public Health (TPH) announced on Friday the first probable human case of West Nile Virus in 2023 in an adult resident of the city. Although the case is yet to be confirmed by laboratory testing, TPH is urging residents to take precautions to avoid mosquito bites as the long weekend approaches.
Dr. Eileen De Villa, the city’s medical officer of health, advised residents to use insect repellent, wear light-colored clothing, long pants, and long-sleeved shirts, and take extra care during peak mosquito-biting hours between dusk and dawn.
West Nile Virus is transmitted through the bite of infected mosquitoes and can lead to symptoms such as fever, headache, nausea, vomiting, body aches, skin rash, and swollen lymph glands. These symptoms typically develop around two to 14 days after being bitten. Older individuals, especially those with compromised immune systems, are at a higher risk of experiencing severe illness from the virus.
In 2022, there were 14 laboratory-confirmed cases of West Nile in Toronto. This year, the city has been actively conducting mosquito surveillance using 22 traps from mid-June through mid-September. So far, 20 batches of mosquitoes have tested positive for West Nile.
The recent increase in hot weather in Toronto has raised concerns about a higher risk of mosquito infection and subsequent transmission of the virus. Other regions and cities in the Greater Toronto Area, including Brampton, Markham, and Hamilton, have also reported finding mosquitoes positive for the virus.
As West Nile Virus poses a potential health threat, TPH advises residents to remain vigilant and take necessary precautions to protect themselves from mosquito bites while enjoying the beautiful summer weather.