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Health officials confirm non-human traces of West Nile virus in Simcoe Muskoka


West Nile virus has officially made its way to Simcoe County and the Muskoka region.

Health Officials from the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit say lab testing on two dead birds, one in Oro-Medonte and the other from Bracebridge, confirmed each was infected with the West Nile virus.

The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit (SMDHU) said this is the first evidence of the virus reaching the region this summer but added that no human cases have been confirmed.

The virus can be transmitted to humans via mosquito bite if the mosquito has initially bitten other infected animals, such as birds.

"Finding these infected birds is a reminder that we all need to continue to take appropriate measures to protect ourselves against West Nile virus at this time of year," said Ramien Sereshk, program coordinator of SMDHU's Healthy Environment and Vector-Borne Diseases program. "The best way to protect yourself is to prevent mosquito bites."

The risk of contracting the virus from infected mosquitoes is highest in late summer.

The SMDHU said using repellent, wearing light-coloured clothing and staying indoors at dusk and dawn when mosquitos are most active are all the best protective measures.

According to the health unit, West Nile virus symptoms usually start to show between two and 14 days after a person is bitten. Those symptoms may include fever, headache, nausea, vomiting, body aches, skin rash and swollen lymph glands and in rare instances, the virus may cause serious neurological illness.

On Friday, public health officials in Toronto said the first probable human case of West Nile virus was reported. Top Stories

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