OTTAWA - To prepare for the upcoming West Nile (WN) virus season, Health Canada, in collaboration with its many partners, is focussing its efforts in six main areas of activity:
- Canada-wide surveillance for West Nile virus
- Keeping Canada's blood system safe from West Nile virus
- Testing for West Nile virus
- Safe and effective pesticides and insect repellents
- Keeping Canadians informed about new findings on West Nile virus
- Working in collaboration with First Nations communities on reserves
"Health Canada will continue to work closely with its many partners to reduce the risk of West Nile virus and keep Canadians informed," said the Honourable Anne McLellan, Minister of Health. "While the risk of being bitten by a West Nile virus-infected mosquito is low, there are steps each of us can take, such as reducing our exposure to mosquitoes with such things as long-sleeved clothing, long pants and insect repellant."
Most people who contract WN virus show no symptoms or only mild flu-like symptoms. WN virus can cause health complications for people of any age and any health status, particularly for people over the age of 40, people with chronic disease such as diabetes, cancer or heart disease and people with weakened immune systems.
Anyone who is exposed to mosquitoes in an area where WN virus has been detected in birds, mosquitoes or other animals, is at some degree of risk for infection. Although the chances of being bitten by infected mosquitoes are small, it is still important to avoid or at least minimize exposure to mosquitoes in areas where WN virus activity is documented.