West Nile Virus

Jul 29, 2013

By Trevor Shewfelt, Pharmacist at the Dauphin Clinic Pharmacy

DAD! THEY SOUND LIKE DRUMS!! That didnt surprise me. The fireworks display in Pinawa was the first big show Eric had seen. But the, Wow, these are much better than the ones in Shilo! from the lady behind us did surprise me. Honestly, when I was growing up the fireworks at Pinawas Birthday were always a little embarrassing. But for Pinawas 50th Birthday, the town went all out. The fireworks were spectacular. They even had these cool ones that looked like duds, but after landing in the water they exploded! The other thing that got better over time in Pinawa is the mosquitos.


You see Pinawa was built by back filling swamp. So it has the level of mosquito infestation you would expect for a swamp. When I moved to Dauphin, I was surprised and happy to see the lack of screened in porches and gazebos. In Pinawa, everyone had a screened in porch or gazebo because if you didnt, you couldnt sit outside in the evening. I remember walking around Dauphin with my parents and remarking on how much better the bugs must be here because of the lack of mosquito screens. And Dauphin has been good. For most of my summers here the mosquitos have been very tolerable. But not this July! I cant mow the lawn at 11 am without dousing myself in bug spray. Its terrible. But Pinawa, the swamp town, is fine. I dont think I saw more than a half dozen of the vampires during the whole Pinawa Birthday weekend.


Most mosquitos in Manitoba are just annoying and cause itchy bites. But since the early 2000s we now have West Nile Virus in Manitoba. West Nile Virus was first identified in Africa in 1937. It spread to Europe and it was first reported in North America in New York City in 1999. Since then it has spread to most parts of the US and Canada. The first known human case of West Nile Virus (WNV) in Manitoba was in July of 2003. West Nile Virus is carried by mosquitos. That means that the mosquito bites an infected animal (often a bird), picks up WNV and then bites the human and gives them WNV.


Although WNV is carried by mosquitos, most mosquitos do not carry WNV. I am not an insect expert, but Manitoba Health says in this province the main carrier of WNV is the Culex tarsalis mosquito, which is a less common type of mosquito. Manitoba Health reports that as of July 19, WNV was found in one mosquito collection in Southern Manitoba. However, no Culex tarsalis mosquitos with WNV have been caught in the Prairie Mountain Health RHA.


What are the symptoms of WNV? Most people who become infected with WNV do not become ill, and so wont report an illness to their doctor. According to Manitoba Health in 2012 39 people saw their doctor and were confirmed to be infected with WNV. Of those 29 had West Nile Fever, and 10 had the more serious neurological symptoms. West Nile Fever has flu like symptoms such as fever, headache, fatigue, rash and body aches. West Nile Fever is usually considered mild and resolves on its own. The much more rare West Nile neurological syndrome is more serious. The neurological syndrome can include encephalitis, an inflammation of the lining of the brain. Encephalitis can have serious complications including paralysis, confusion, coma or death. Anyone experiencing symptoms like persistent high fever, muscle weakness and headache should seek medical attention.


How can you protect yourself from WNV? Try to reduce the amount of time you spend outdoors around dawn and dusk. The peak hours for mosquitoes are at sunrise and sunset, but the WNV Culex mosquitoes do also bite at night. Make sure the screens on your doors and windows dont have rips or tears. Remove standing water like childrens wading pools from your property. Use bug repellant with DEET.


There have been a lot of DEET questions at the pharmacy lately. Here is what Health Canada says: repellents with concentration of DEET of 30% will protect you from mosquitos for approximately 6 hours and can be used for adults and children over 12. DEET 10% for will work for about 3 hours and can be used on children 2-12. However it should be used 3 times per day or less. DEET 10% can be used on kids 6 months to 2 years, but can only be applied once per day. Health Canada says that you should not use DEET on infants under 6 months of age.


The fireworks for Pinawas 50th were impressive. Not everything was better in the good old days. Pinawa Birthday was nice for the nostalgia, but Im happy to live in Dauphin. We have Countryfest, Ukrainian Festival, Credit Union Place, a splash pad, Vermillion Park, the Watson Arts Center, and and and. Dauphin is a great place to live. Now if we can just send these freaking mosquitos back to the east side of the province.


The information in this article is intended as a helpful guide only. It is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional advice. If you have any questions about your medications and what is right for you see your doctor, pharmacist or other health care professional.

We now have this and most other articles published in the Parkland Shopper on our Website. Please visit us at www.dcp.ca



For more information visit:


Health Canadas Insect Repellent Page: www.hc-sc.gc.ca/hl-vs/iyh-vsv/life-vie/insect-eng.php

Manitoba Healths WNV page: www.gov.mb.ca/health/wnv/


As always if you have any questions or concerns about these or other products, ask your pharmacist.


Read more Health Articles

Unite Interactive