Since the first human West Nile virus (WNV) case was reported in a young child from the Santé Sud region at the beginning of the month, Manitoba health officials have reported an additional six WNV cases.
Three new cases have been identified in the Interlake-Eastern region, two in the Prairie Mountain region and one in the Winnipeg region.
To date, two of the confirmed patients have required hospitalization for symptoms related to WNV this summer.
Manitoba health officials remind the public that the mosquito season is not over. Continued warm and dry conditions are ideal for Culex tarsalis, a carrier of WNV. Culex tarsalis typically feeds between dusk and dawn and often goes unnoticed when biting, and will start feeding earlier as the days shorten in September.
While mosquito numbers are low in most communities, surveillance shows the numbers of infected Culex tarsalis remain high throughout southern Manitoba. It only takes one bite from an infected Culex tarsalis mosquito to be exposed to WNV. The risk for potential human exposure to WNV is high at present and will likely remain so for the next few weeks.
Officials offer the following recommendations to the public to reduce the risk of mosquito bites and potential WNV exposure:
- reducing the amount of time spent outdoors during peak mosquito hours (between dusk and dawn);
- using appropriate mosquito repellent;
- wearing light-colored, loose-fitting clothing; and
- maintaining door and window screens so they fit tightly and are free of holes.
In addition, Manitobans can reduce the number of mosquitoes around their homes by eliminating standing water. To prevent the development of Culex tarsalis mosquitoes, homeowners can:
- clean eaves troughs and regularly empty bird baths and other items that might collect water;
- ensure rain barrels are covered with mosquito screening or are tightly sealed around the downspout;
- clear yards of old tires or other items that collect water; and
- improve landscaping to prevent standing water around the home.
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