Alberta Confirms First Human Case Of West Nile Virus

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Alberta's first human case of West Nile virus (WNv) for 2009 has been confirmed in an adult male from the Calgary area. Although the man travelled in Saskatchewan during the first week of August, this case of WNv neurological syndrome is considered most likely to have been acquired in Alberta.

“Albertans and travelers need to use protective measures when gardening, golfing fishing and spending relaxation time outdoors,” said Dr. Andre Corriveau, Chief Medical Officer of Health. "Wearing mosquito repellent with DEET, as well as long sleeves, pants and socks when outside are still the most effective prevention measures when dealing with West Nile virus.”

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Symptoms of West Nile non-neurological syndrome include fever, chills, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, a possible skin rash or swollen glands and headache. These symptoms usually occur within two to 14 days of infection, however most people who become infected show no symptoms.

The more serious symptoms associated with West Nile neurological syndrome include stiffness of the neck, a worsening headache, disorientation, tremors or convulsions, muscle weakness, difficulty moving, and paralysis or coma. Anyone developing the symptoms either of non-neurological or neurological syndrome should see a physician.

The development and spread of the virus to humans depends on the activity of Culex tarsalis mosquitoes found in Alberta, which are proficient at carrying the virus. These mosquitoes normally reach their peak biting activity during July and throughout August. However, 2009 temperatures have not been consistently warm enough to facilitate the spread of infected mosquitoes this year. During 2008, one human case of WNv was reported in the province.

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