Mosquitoes with West Nile virus found in several Manitoba communities prompting warning

The province is cautioning Manitobans to protect themselves against West Nile virus this summer.

The warning comes after mosquitoes infected with the virus were found in several communities throughout Manitoba.

John Hughes knows first hand the impact West Nile virus can have.

In 2016, a mosquito bite changed his life. He was rushed to hospital, and it was determined he had contracted the virus.

"I was in a coma for approximately four months, and then ICU for about six months, and then I went to rehab," Hughes recalled.

Hughes now uses a wheelchair, as he lost most of the strength in his upper body and needs a lot of help around the house.

"I was a pretty active guy before," Said Hughes.

"I worked full time, I was involved in municipal politics, I was a councillor and a Reeve at the time."

On Thursday, the Government of Manitoba put out a tweet reminding all Manitobans to be aware of West Nile after mosquitos infected with the virus were found in East St. Paul, Morris, Oakbank, and Winnipeg.

In a statement to CTV News, a spokesperson for the province said:

"The mosquitoes in question were collected last week as part of Manitoba health's West Nile Virus surveillance program."

"The mosquito that carries West Nile Virus, Culex tarsalis, has been increasing in numbers throughout the summer."

The province said to reduce your chances of contracting West Nile virus, apply an appropriate insect repellent, wear light clothing with long sleeves and pant legs, and reduce time spent outside between dusk and dawn.

"What people should be aware of, (Culex) tarsalis is a very sneaky biter," said Taz Stuart, a local entomologist.

He said the long weekend is one of the riskiest times of the year as it relates to West Nile virus.

"This is the second and third generation of Culex tarsalis, so they could be infected or infective, meaning they can transmit the virus to a dead-end host like a human."

Stuart said Culex tarsalis numbers are on the rise, and in a few weeks, we could see humans contracting the West Nile Virus.

Hughes said Manitobans should be mindful of mosquitoes in the province. He said his outcome could have been worse.

"There was another person with West Nile in the hospital with me that passed away. So I'm sort of in the middle of the road for survival of West Nile."