42 cases of West Nile re­ported in Al­berta this sea­son, most since 2007

Prairie Post (East Edition) - - Prairies - BY GILLIAN SLADE— South­ern Al­berta News­pa­pers

The num­ber of con­firmed cases of West Nile virus in Al­berta this year has soared to the most seen since 2007.

Across the province, 42 cases have been di­ag­nosed and of those 33 are in Al­berta Health Ser­vices’ south zone.

It may seem late in the sea­son to be talk­ing about a virus trans­mit­ted by mos­qui­toes but the data was col­lected over the past few weeks, said med­i­cal of­fi­cer of health Lizette Elu­mir.

“Peo­ple may also have been bit­ten but then not de­vel­oped symp­toms un­til later,” said Elu­mir.

Of the 42 cases across the province, 32 were non-neu­ro­log­i­cal and five neu­ro­log­i­cal. There was no data avail­able from AHS on the se­ri­ous­ness of the five neu­ro­log­i­cal cases or whether there have been any deaths.

West Nile virus can cause West Nile Non-neu­ro­log­i­cal Syn­drome or, on rare oc­ca­sions the more se­ri­ous West Nile Neu­ro­log­i­cal Syn­drome.

Those with West Nile NonNeu­ro­log­i­cal Syn­drome may ex­pe­ri­ence fever, chills, nausea, vom­it­ing, fa­tigue, skin rash, swollen glands and headache. Peo­ple who de­velop West Nile Neu­ro­log­i­cal Syn­drome may ex­pe­ri­ence tremors, drowsi­ness, con­fu­sion, swal­low­ing prob­lems, high fever, un­con­scious­ness, paral­y­sis and even death.

This year’s statis­tics are also the high­est in the south zone since 2007. There were four cases in 2017, three in 2016, none in ei­ther 2014 or 2015. In 2013 there were 16 cases, six in 2012, none in 2011 and 2010, one in 2009, one in 2008 and then 245 in 2007.

The rea­son the south zone’s num­bers are sig­nif­i­cantly higher than the rest of the province is thanks to its warmer weather and ideal bread­ing con­di­tions for this par­tic­u­lar mos­quito. If the tem­per­a­ture is 18 C it takes around 30 days for Culex tarsalis (the lar­vae car­ry­ing the virus) to be able to trans­mit the virus. With tem­per­a­tures of 30 C it takes less than a week, ac­cord­ing to gov­ern­ment doc­u­ments.

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