Two diagnosed with West Nile virus

August 3, 2012 - All News

Two people have been diagnosed as probably having contracted West Nile Virus, marking what Toronto Public Health officials say is the second-earliest appearance of the potentially deadly disease in humans since it arrived in Toronto in 2002.
“In the course of our investigation we know that these individuals first experienced symptoms around the middle of July and that is the second earliest that we’ve seen,” said Dr. Howard Shapiro, Toronto’s associate medical officer of health. “In 2002 people did have symptoms earlier, but in other years this would be early.”
The two individuals are a 32-year-old woman with probable West Nile Virus, who is recovering at home, and an 80-year-old man who has been hospitalized.
Officials wouldn’t say what part of the city the two are from, and Dr. Shapiro said the risk of contracting the disease from mosquito bites is equal in all parts of Toronto.
The disease originally came to Toronto carried by birds, who passed the virus on to mosquitoes after having been bitten.
Since the arrival of West Nile virus, Toronto Public Health has been practising a surveillance program that includes putting larvicide in pools where mosquitoes have been known to breed.
As well, Toronto Public Health traps and tests mosquitoes. In July, Toronto Public Health reported that several batches of mosquitoes had tested positive.
Toronto Public Health is still confirming that the two human cases are in fact instances of West Nile virus, which can manifest with a variety of symptoms. In more serious cases, it creates an inflammation of the brain, and in other cases it manifests with a fever, a rash, neck pain, confusion, severe headaches and sensitivity to light.
The risk of infection is low though. Nearly 80 per cent bitten by an infected mosquito don’t become ill and less than one per cent of people become seriously ill.
In 2011, there were 28 human cases reported and no one has died from the disease in Toronto since 2005.
— Metroland News Service