Mosquitoes test positive for West Nile virus in Hamilton, Niagara

Health officials say mosquitoes in Hamilton and Niagara Region have tested positive for West Nile virus (WNV).

It is the first confirmation of WNV in mosquitoes in both regions in 2019. No human cases have been reported to Public Health.

Niagara health officials say the infected mosquitoes were found in St. Catharines, Welland, Port Colborne, and West Lincoln, but all Niagara residents should take the necessary precautions to prevent West Nile Virus.

The discovery in Hamilton has prompted the Medical Officer of Health to move the WNV risk from low to moderate. Residents are being reminded protect themselves against mosquito bites and to remove standing water from private property to prevent mosquito breeding.

“In the warmer months it is important to take precautions to avoid illnesses spread by insects including West Nile Virus and Lyme disease,” said Dr. Bart Harvey, Associate Medical Officer of Health in a news release. “Employing simple preventive measures such as using insect repellent containing DEET or Icaridin, and wearing loose-fitting, light-colored clothing will reduce your risk while you enjoy the outdoors.”

Hamilton recently completed a third round of larviciding treatments on city street catch basins, in addition to ongoing treatment of surface waters on public land.

Health officials say while roughly 80 per cent of those infected with West Nile virus will have no symptoms, others including older adults or those with weakened immune systems may experience West Nile fever or may develop more severe illness including inflammation of the brain or the lining of the brain. Symptoms usually appear two to 14 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito.

The following tips can help protect you and your family from mosquitoes:

  • Wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants, socks and shoes when outdoors
  • Drain any areas of standing or stagnant water on your property on a regular basis, including bird baths, old tires, pails, toys, and wheelbarrows
  • Make sure all windows and doors in your home have screens that are in good condition
  • Anyone with concerns or questions about WNV can contact their region’s local public health.