Interior Health issues West Nile virus warning

Interior Health is warning that mosquitos potentially carrying the West Nile Virus are most active in August.

According to a news release, West Nile Virus is is a disease spread from corvids (crows, ravens, magpies and jays) to humans through mosquito bites.

Last year, West Nile Virus was diagnosed in five human cases in the Okanagan, while it was also detected in birds and a horse in the East Kootenay.

Interior Health says risk of infection from birds is very low, however, do not use bare hands to handle wild birds, whether dead or alive. If an abnormally large cluster of dead birds are discovered, contact the BC Interagency Wild Bird Mortality Investigation at 1-866-431-2473.

Any activity or product that prevents mosquitos from biting or breeding is encouraged in order to reduce the risks association with West Nile Virus.

Preventing mosquito breeding grounds around the home can be a key step, such as eliminating or reducing areas with standing water.

Other measures include installing screens on windows, avoiding outdoor activities in the early mornings and late evenings, and wearing protective clothing.

Interior Health says it works closely with the B.C. Centre for Disease Control and Canadian Blood Services to monitor West Nile virus, noting it screens blood supplies and reports human and animal cases.

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