‘DEFINITELY A CONCERN’
Third senior dies from West Nile virus
A third person has died from West Nile virus, the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit reported Friday. All these deaths were seniors who died in the last two weeks — two from the City of Windsor and one from Essex County.
These are the first West Nile virus-related deaths in the region since 2012 and they are believed to be the only West Nile virus deaths in Ontario this year, according to the health unit.
“So this is definitely a concern and it’s why we’re being so proactive in communicating our message out to the general public, that the (mosquito) season’s not over,” the region’s acting medical officer of health, Dr. Wajid Ahmed, told the Star on Friday.
“It is pretty important for people to remember that it’s not a benign disease and anyone can get West Nile virus just by getting bitten by a mosquito.”
Older people tend to be more vulnerable to the virus, the doctor said. The people most affected tend to be the very old and very young, and people with immunocompromised conditions. He said 70 to 80 per cent of people who get West Nile virus never show any symptoms.
He said this area is getting hit harder by the disease than elsewhere because we have the warmest weather, and this season has been made even more attractive to West Nile virus-infected mosquitoes by the large volumes of rain.
“Our particular area is an area where you would see things that are different from the rest of the province because of our location,” said Dr. Ahmed, who noted this region had the first confirmed case of West Nile virus in Canada.
“When you are living here, at one point you’re enjoying the milder weather compared to the rest of Canada, but you also have to be aware of the increased risk.”
So far this year there have been 15 confirmed cases and one probable case of West Nile virus-infected humans in Windsor-Essex. Provincewide there have been 65 confirmed or probable cases as of Sept. 13.
The health unit is urging people to “take measures to protect themselves and their families from being bitten by mosquitoes.”
Most people infected with West Nile virus never develop symptoms. In 25 per cent of cases, people develop West Nile fever. In less than one per cent of cases, people develop severe neuro-invasive disease, which is potentially fatal.
The health unit reported two West Nile virus-related deaths on Monday and issued another release Friday announcing the third fatality.
It’s not a benign disease and anyone can get West Nile virus just by getting bitten by a mosquito.