While the United States saw well over 2,000 West Nile virus (WNV) cases and 85 fatalities during 2014, our neighbors to the north saw just a tiny fraction of that amount.
According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, a total of 21 human clinical cases of West Nile virus were reported in Canada, all from 3 provinces. To put that number into perspective, North Dakota, in the northern plains of the US bordering Canada reported 22 WNV cases.
Approximately half the Canadian cases were of the more serious neuroinvasive variety, while the other half were not. No WNV fatalities were reported in 2014.
The mosquito borne viral disease was reported from Manitoba (5), Ontario (10) and Quebec (6).
Most individuals infected with WNV will not have any symptoms. People that do develop illness will usually have any combination of fever, headache, body aches, skin rash and swollen lymph glands. Thesesymptoms generally appear two to 14 days following the bite of an infected mosquito.
Less than one percent of persons exposed to the virus will develop more severe infections, with symptoms such as headache, high fever, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness and paralysis. In rare instances, WNV can be fatal. Persons over 50 years of age have the highest risk of developing more severe disease. People who are immunocompromised may also be at high risk of WNV infection.