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The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit has reported the first local human case of West Nile Virus.

In a news release issued Monday, the health unit states a Windsor-Essex resident has tested positive for the virus, marking the first clinically diagnosed and lab-confirmed case for the region this year.

"The mosquito species capable of spreading WNV have been identified throughout WEC through the health unit's surveillance program,” said Dr. Wajid Ahmed, Windsor-Essex medical officer of health. “This positive human case is a reminder for residents to continue to protect themselves from exposure while enjoying the outdoors. It is also important to remove any standing water around homes and businesses."

The health unit says West Nile Virus (WNV) is usually transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito that has fed on birds that carry the virus.

Most people who contract WNV never develop symptoms and will not know they have the virus.

Only around 20 per cent of people actually develop symptoms of West Nile fever and less than one per cent develop “severe neuro-invasive disease.”

WECHU says while anyone can be infected with WNV people over the age of 50 are at a higher risk for severe disease.

Tips from the health unit to help protect against mosquito bites include:

  • Remove all standing water on your property – call 311 or your local municipality to report standing water
  • Use insect repellents that contain DEET, Icaridin or other approved ingredients on clothing as well as exposed skin. Read and follow the manufacturers' directions for safe use
  • Wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and a hat when outdoors. Light-coloured clothing is best as mosquitoes tend to be attracted to dark colours
  • Limit the time you spend outdoors at dawn and dusk, when mosquitoes are most active
  • Make sure that door and window screens fit securely and are free of holes.

Throughout the summer the WECHU says it has been working with each municipality to monitor and control WNV in the community. The 2020 surveillance program will continue throughout the rest of the season, along with the investigation of standing water complaints.

More information on WNV and how to protect against mosquito bites is available on the health unit’s website.