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Health Unit reports two human cases of West Nile virus

SIMCOE, ON, AUGUST 31, 2012 – The Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit has identified two human cases of West Nile virus, one is a Simcoe resident and the other individual lives in Dunnville. There has not been a confirmed human case in Haldimand or Norfolk since 2002.

These cases come in a year where increased rates of West Nile virus (WNv) have swept through much of Canada and the U.S. The summer of 2012 has seen more human cases of WNv in Ontario than at any time since 2002. As of August 28 of this year, there have been 82 cases in the province, 43 of which reside in Toronto. Fortunately, no deaths have been reported as a result of the virus in Ontario this year.

“The increase in cases throughout Ontario is most likely a result of the long, warm summer we have experienced this year,” said Sandy Stevens, Program Coordinator for the Health Unit’s Healthy Environment Team.

West Nile virus activity usually peaks in late summer, with cases being reported into the autumn months. However, the Health Unit notes that WNv has been considered endemic in Ontario for a number of years, and the public should always be taking precautions to protect themselves from the virus.

The Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit is advising people to protect themselves from West Nile virus by:
·Applying mosquito repellant containing DEET, according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
·Avoiding being outdoors at dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active.
·Wearing light coloured clothing with long sleeves and pants.
·Promptly eliminating standing water on your property, including water in eaves troughs or shallow containers such as bird baths, spare tires and flower pots.

Most people infected will not have any symptoms while others may experience flu-like symptoms such as fever, headache and body aches. Those with weakened immune systems are at higher risk of experiencing more serious health effects such as meningitis, encephalitis and acute flaccid paralysis.

For more information on West Nile virus, visit the Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit’s website at www.hnhu.org.

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Media contact:
Sandy Stevens
Program Coordinator, Healthy Environment Team
Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit
Ext. 3216 at either 519.426.6170 or 905.318.6623
[email protected]