Increasing hot summer weather brings with it the risk of contracting the West Nile virus from a mosquito. (File photo)

Simple steps for mosquito safety

West Nile virus risk increases as summer heats up

The Interior Health Authority is warning that as summer temperatures increase, so does the risk of West Nile virus.

West Nile virus is a disease that is spread from infected corvid birds (crows, ravens, magpies, and jays) to humans through mosquito bites. It was first detected in B.C. in the South Okanagan during the summer of 2009. Since then there have been four human cases – all in the Okanagan. Last year the virus was detected in horses and birds in the Kootenays, confirming the virus is present there as well. Several parts of Canada and the U.S. continue to report West Nile virus activity.

The risk of becoming seriously ill from West Nile virus infection is low for most people. However, the elderly and those with compromised immune systems are more at risk, especially from the end of July through August when the risk of contracting West Nile is highest.

There are some important measures people can take to reduce their risk of infection, both at home and while travelling. Any activity that prevents mosquitoes from biting or breeding can help to reduce the risk of becoming infected with West Nile virus.

Prevent mosquito breeding around your home. It doesn’t take much time or water for mosquitoes to develop from eggs into adults. Anything that can hold water can be a mosquito breeding area. Identify and remove potential breeding areas on your property – empty saucers under flowerpots; change the water in bird baths twice a week; unclog rain gutters; drain tarps, tires, and other debris where rain water may collect; and install a pump in ornamental ponds or stock them with fish. Stagnant backyard pools can be a big source of mosquitoes and should be maintained regularly to prevent mosquito growth.

Install screens on windows. Screens will help prevent mosquitoes from coming indoors.

Avoid outdoor activities at dusk and dawn. This is the time of day mosquitoes that can carry the virus are most active.

Wear protective clothing. If you are in an area with many mosquitoes, wear loose fitting, light coloured, full-length pants, and a long-sleeved shirt.

Use mosquito repellent. Apply mosquito repellent to areas of exposed skin. Check the product label for instructions on proper use. Repellents containing DEET are safe for those over six months of age when used according to the directions on the label.

View the HealthLinkBC file on DEET at healthlinkbc.ca for guidelines on how frequently to apply repellent. DEET-free products (such as those containing icardin, p-menthane-3, 8-diol /lemon-eucalyptus oil, or soybean oil) are also available, but may not provide as long-lasting protection.

Interior Health works closely with the B.C. Centre for Disease Control and Canadian Blood Services to monitor West Nile virus activity. Surveillance includes screening the blood supply and reporting human and animal cases. More information on mosquitoes and West Nile virus is available at interiorhealth.ca and the B.C. Centre for Disease Control.

Just Posted

New shuttle service to and from Penticton River Channel

Company launches this Friday and offers services within city limits

I’m Just Saying: What’s the hold up with pot shops in Penticton?

Jordyn Thomson is a reporter with the Penticton Western News

Holi: Festival of Colours celebrated in the South Okanagan

Kismet Estate Winery, in Oliver, celebrated Holi with their guests last weekend

B.C. premier says Greyhound replacement news could come shortly

Province is working with the private sector to find a solution, says premier

Okanagan-Shuswap weather: mix of sun and clouds

Environment Canada is calling for a chance of rain and risk of thunderstorms across the Okanagan tonight

VIDEO: Tributes flow on 10th anniversary of Michael Jackson’s death

Jackson received a fatal dose of the anesthetic propofol on June 25, 2009. He died at age 50

VIDEO: Killer whale steals fisherman’s catch off North Coast

Fishing duel results in eager orca snagging salmon in Prince Rupert

Big changes to food services at UBC Okanagan

Healthy, high-quality food on the menu as UBCO staffs up for in-house operations

Tolko donation helps build new Okanagan daycare

The Early Years Daycare Centre is scheduled to open at the end of summer 2019

COSAR rescues hiker from Okanagan Mountain Park

The woman hurt her ankle and was unable to walk out without the help of the team

40 cats surrendered in apparent hoarding at B.C. home

Officers found the cats living among piles of garbage and feces, suffering from fleas

UPDATE: RCMP expect Highway 1 closure west of Salmon Arm to be lengthy

Police collision analysis and reconstruction investigating accident scene

Vancouver Aquarium drops cetacean ban lawsuit in new lease agreement

Ocean Wise CEO Lasse Gustavsson called the updated lease an exciting new chapter for the aquarium

Okanagan RCMP bike patrol rolls up on alleged stolen vehicle from Burnaby

The driver, a 30-year-old Kelowna man, has been held in custody and is facing possible charges of possession of stolen property and obstructing a police officer

Most Read