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West Nile virus case confirmed in Alberta
Julia Parrish, CTV Edmonton
Published Tuesday, August 21, 2012 9:52AM MDT
Last Updated Tuesday, August 21, 2012 7:06PM MDT
Alberta Health Services officials have confirmed the first human case of West Nile virus in Alberta since 2010.
Dr. David Strong, the Acting South Zone Medical Officer of Health, said Tuesday morning that one case of West Nile Non-Neurological Syndrome had been reported.
AHS wouldn’t release many details on the case, citing patient confidentiality – however, Dr. Strong said the patient is a woman, less than 65 years old.
According to Dr. Strong, the woman lives in southern Alberta, outside of the Calgary area, and she had not travelled to an area where West Nile Virus is common – so she contracted the virus from a mosquito in Alberta.
A person with West Nile virus can develop either the Non-Neurological Syndrome (formerly known as West Nile fever), or West Nile Neurological Syndrome.
The non-neurological can, at times, be present without any symptoms – and any symptoms that can occur can be uncomfortable, including fever, chills, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, skin rash, swollen glands and headache. In some cases the fatigue can last for months.
Dr. Strong said there is no treatment for the non-neurological syndrome, but patients always recover – a patient who is found to have the virus would have supportive care, similar to the treatment of the flu.
The Neurological Syndrome can affect a smaller group of people, such as individuals with compromised immune systems, and can cause severe illness with debilitating, lifelong effects, particularly in older adults.
West Nile virus can be contracted through the bite of the fleas or female mosquitoes.
Health officials recommend wearing mosquito repellent with DEET, as well as wearing long-sleeved, light-coloured shirts and long pants (rather than shorts) to prevent mosquito bites.
More information can be found online.
In 2011, 102 cases of West Nile virus were confirmed in Canada.
A mosquito acquires a blood meal from a human at the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta in 2006. (Center for Disease Control and Prevention / James Gathany)