Toronto Public Health finds West Nile virus in five pools of mosquitoes

A number of mosquitoes in Toronto have tested positive for West Nile virus, the city’s health agency has confirmed.

In a news release published Monday, Toronto Public Health (TPH) said five pools of infected mosquitoes from Etobicoke, North York, and west Toronto are some of the first to test positive for the virus this year.

TPH said the risk to the public of getting infected is low.

Mosquito surveillance in the city is conducted annually and sees 22 traps placed throughout the city every week. The program runs from mid-June to mid-September and trapped mosquitoes are brought to a laboratory for identification and then grouped into pools to test for the virus, the agency said.

Last year, a total of 20 mosquito pools tested positive. In 2020, that number was 33.

Symptoms related to West Nile virus may include fever, headache, nausea, vomiting, body aches, skin rash and swollen lymph glands and usually develop between two and 14 days following infection.

TPH said that older individuals and those with compromised immune systems are at a higher risk of severe illness.

The agency has offered up a number of tips to protect yourself during the last few weeks of summer. Those include:

  • Wear light-coloured clothing, long pants and long-sleeved shirts when outdoors.
  • Apply insect repellent containing DEET or icaridin and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Take extra care during peak mosquito-biting hours, dusk and dawn, by using repellent and covering up.
  • Make sure your home has tight-fitting screens on windows and doors.
  • Remove standing water from your property, where mosquitoes can breed. Standing water includes any water that collects in items such as pool covers, buckets, planters, toys and waste containers.

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