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In Canada, West Nile infected mosquitoes stoke public health fears

Alaska Dispatch

CBC News reports that Toronto mosquitoes found carrying the West Nile virus are at a record high this summer. Officials believe that warm weather is behind the increased numbers of air-borne virus carriers.

In Toronto, health officials trap mosquitoes in 43 locations. They say the virus has appeared in record numbers, and earlier than usual. Larvicide ‘bug bombs’ are employed in 120 roadside catch basins to fight the mosquitoes’ population.

This year, no human cases of the virus have as of yet been reported, but officials think it is unlikely to stay that way. The virus was first discovered in Toronto in 2001, and in 2002, there were 163 cases and 11 deaths. Since 2005, however, nobody has died, and only one case was reported in 2010.

Mosquitoes pick up the virus from birds and then spread it to humans. Around one in five people infected by the virus show symptoms, whereas about 1 in 150 people develop severe symptoms from the West Nile virus, including disorientation, neck stiffness, paralysis and coma.

Mosquitoes are a true nuisance in the Arctic; they hibernate through long winters, and awaken just in time to disrupt summer outdoor activities of all kind.

Want to avoid being bitten by Alaska’s unofficial bird? Use insect repellant, wear long sleeves and pants, and make sure to have screens on doors and windows. But if you do get bitten, anti-itch remedies are here to help.

Read more, here.