Conditions ripe for sickness to spread
Mosquitoes carrying the West Nile virus have been discovered in the province, leading health officials to issue public warnings for Albertans to protect themselves.
Several pools tested positive for the virus at surveillance stations in Calgary, Taber, Brooks, and as far north as Provost. The mosquitoes are the first confirmed evidence of the virus in Alberta this year.
John Tuckwell, a government spokesman for health and wellness, said the past few weeks of warm weather has contributed to the spread of the virus.
“We’re concerned in that this has been a very good summer for the development of the mosquitoes that carry West Nile,” he said. “In all likelihood, we will start seeing positive pools in the Edmonton area, and possibly further north.”
Dr. Shainoor Virani, acting deputy chief medical officer for the province, said no human cases of the virus have been reported yet, but everyone needs to take precautions to prevent infection.
She recommends using insect repellent that contains DEET to avoid being bitten by infected mosquitoes.
West Nile virus has no known cure and can cause long-term health problems, including paralysis, fatigue, depression and memory loss.
Some patients can recover quickly from the virus, while others can have symptoms that last for years.
The virus, carried by the Culex tarsalis mosquito, was first detected within Alberta’s borders in 2003, but there have so far been few cases of transmission to humans.