West Nile Virus

Aug 11, 2015

By Trevor Shewfelt, Pharmacist at the Dauphin Clinic Pharmacy

Come look at my drawers! They have way more room in them! Eric's excitement over his underwear drawer needs some back story. Our house usually looks like a bomb went off in it. There are children's socks, papers, soccer cleats, bike helmets, etc spread from one end to the other. Occasionally the whip gets cracked and the kids put their stuff away. By the next day their stuff explodes outwards again. My son Eric has always kept a neater room than his older sister. Maybe he just has less stuff, I'm not sure. But the other day he announced he found a YouTube video on organization. Then he told his mother she didn't have to fold his clothes anymore, he could do it better. I wasn't upset, but quite surprised by this reaction from a ten year old boy. I sure don't remember being interested in folding underwear back in Pinawa.

My home town of Pinawa was built by back filling a swamp. It has the level of mosquito infestation you would expect from 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 on a summer 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 they have started to get worse this August. I was setting up flamingos in a yard at about 9 pm and we were getting eaten alive.

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 31, WNV was found in about 30 mosquitos in the Prairie Mountain Health Authority.

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 2015 1 person saw their doctor and were confirmed to be infected with WNV. There are two levels of WNV. 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.

Here is a quick refresher on DEET. 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.

Eric was so proud. He'd watched a YouTube video and now due to his organization abilities, his underwear only took up half his underwear drawer. In contrast his thirteen year old sister can rarely close her drawers due to the balled up clothes haphazardly shoved this way and that. I don't know if Eric's new found interest in a place for everything and everything in its place is a phase or going to stick. But if you need your closet or drawers organized, I have a ten year old boy to rent out.

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.



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