Although there has not been any human cases of West Nile virus (WNV) in Alberta, or in all of Canada for that matter, Alberta Health Services (AHS) is reminding Albertans to take precautions necessary to protect themselves against West Nile virus infection this summer.

“With exposure to mosquitoes comes risk of West Nile virus,” says Dr. Judy MacDonald, Medical Officer of Health – Calgary Zone. “Because some mosquitoes carry West Nile virus, it’s important to avoid being bitten at all.”

Whether gardening, golfing, fishing, travelling or even just relaxing outdoors, all Albertans should take these simple steps to prevent bites and protect themselves from West Nile virus:

  • Wear a long-sleeved, light-colored shirt, pants, and a hat.
  • Use insect repellent with DEET.
  • Consider staying indoors at dawn and dusk, when mosquitoes are most active.

“These steps can make it harder for mosquitoes to find you, and remember: if mosquitoes can’t find you, they can’t bite you,” says Dr. MacDonald.

From 2003 to 2014, 680 cases of West Nile virus were confirmed in Alberta, 622 of which were acquired here in the province.

During the 2014 West Nile virus season, three provinces (Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec) reported human cases of West Nile virus to the Public Health Agency of Canada. No fatalities were reported.

A total of 21 human clinical cases of West Nile virus were reported in Canada: five in Manitoba [Interlake-Eastern Health Region (1), Prairie Mountain Health Region (2), Southern Health Region (1) and Winnipeg Health Region (1)], 10 in Ontario [Chatham-Kent (1), Halton Region (2), Lambton County (1), City of Ottawa (2), Simcoe-Muskoka District (1) and City of Toronto (3)] and six in Quebec [Lanaudière (1), Montérégie (3) and Montreal (2)].

Related: Canada reports over 300 confirmed chikungunya cases in 2014, Ontario sees the most

Of the 21 human clinical cases, 10 (47.6%) were classified as West Nile virus non-neurological syndrome, nine (42.9%) as West Nile virus neurological syndrome and two (9.5%) as unclassified/unspecified.