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Risk of West Nile Virus increasing

By: Scott Hartley, PAg, Provincial Specialist, Insect/Vertebrate Pest

The Saskatchewan Ministry of Health monitors mosquitos as part of the West Nile virus (WNV) surveillance. Population levels and the number of infected mosquitos are reported weekly, and it’s generally in late July and into August that the highest risk occurs.

Many of the mosquito species in Saskatchewan are considered more of a nuisance, but the main mosquito vector of concern for WNV is Culex tarsalis. This mosquito species has a wide range of feeding hosts, including both birds and mammals. Culex tarsalis mosquitoes are most active on warm evenings and between dusk and dawn. People that are working or active outdoors during these times are strongly advised to take personal precautions such as covering exposed skin, using mosquito repellents and limiting time outside during peak times of mosquito activity. Homeowners are also reminded to frequently empty containers that collect water (e.g. bird baths), which are locations for mosquito egg-laying.

For the week of Aug. 6, 2016, Saskatchewan Health has reported that numbers of Culex tarsalis mosquitoes continue to rise in southern and central Saskatchewan. The risk of WNV transmission to humans remains at a moderate level in southern Saskatchewan, but increasing numbers of infected mosquitoes have been found this past week. 

  • The number of infected mosquitoes is expected to increase in southern and central health regions with rising mosquito numbers and continuing hot, humid weather.
  • Conditions remain optimal for Culex tarsalis biting and egg-laying activity and virus transmission throughout all of southern Saskatchewan.

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