First Suspected Cases of West Nile Virus in Canada
Saturday August 31, 2002
PEEL REGION/HALTON REGION, Ont. - Two residents of South
Mississauga and one resident of Burlington are suspected to be the
first human cases of West Nile Virus in Canada. Blood samples were
sent to the National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg to confirm
the positive preliminary tests. One of the Mississauga patients
has developed encephalitits, while the other Mississauga patient
has recovered and been discharged. The Burlington man only exhibited
mild flu-like symptoms, which is common with West Nile Virus infection.
Is there cause for concern? It is always cause for concern
when new diseases migrate and expand to new areas, but most infections
only cause mild subclinical symptoms. In 20% of the cases, infection
results in a mild flu-like illness with symptoms such as malaise,
headache, anorexia, myalgia, nausea, vomiting, rash, and eyepain.
Approximately 1 in 150 infections will cause severe neurological
disease. People of advanced age and those with compromised immune
systems are more at risk of developing these severe symptoms.
Despite all the attention West Nile Virus has been getting
in the media, there is no need for the general population to panic.
West Nile Virus cannot be transmitted by human to human contact
or animal to human contact. The only way people can be infected
by West Nile Virus is throught mosquito bites from mosquitos that
have bitten another infected animal.* Some helpful methods to avoid
contact with mosquitos are presented here.
To put it all into perspective, more people will die from flu infection
this year than West Nile Virus infection. If personal preventive
measures are in place to avoid mosquito bites, the possibility of
West Nile Virus is reduced. Even if one is infected with West Nile
Virus, most cases will result in mild symptoms or no symptoms at
* There has been some new information about the possibility
that West Nile Virus was transmitted
through Organ Donation.