‘DEF­I­NITELY A CON­CERN’

Third se­nior dies from West Nile virus

Windsor Star - - FRONT PAGE - BRIAN CROSS

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.

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