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It's West Nile Virus time again

The mosquitoes that carry the West Nile Virus (WNV) have been found in Sun Country Health Region again this summer.

Mosquito surveillance identified a small number of Culex tarsalis mosquitos in the Sun Country Health Region (SCHR) traps collected from June 22 - June 28.

SCHR Medical Health Officer Dr. Shauna Hudson says the human risk of WNV is low at this time. But she warns residents that WNV risk will increase through July, as warmer weather arrives.

April and May were cool, dry months in Saskatchewan, resulting in fewer mosquitos hatching and delaying development of mosquito populations by almost three weeks, she says. Last year, the first Culex tarsalis mosquitos were trapped in Estevan and Weyburn during the week of June 3 - June 9.

"However, with more moisture in the first week in June and increasing temperatures, it is anticipated that mosquito activity will increase through the WNV risk season, which is typically the end of June through early September," she says.

Dr. Hudson says with school ending and summer holidays underway, people need to take precautions to avoid being bitten around their homes and in the many parks.

The Saskatchewan Ministry of Health is anticipating another potentially high risk year for human cases of the virus. 2007 was a record year for human cases in this province. In 2007, several SCHR residents were infected with WNV.

To help Saskatchewan residents better understand their level of risk for contracting West Nile Virus, the Saskatchewan Ministry of Health has introduced a new visual tool, called a risk map.

The colour-coded risk map allows residents to see their risk of contracting WNV by health region. The map is based on the number of WNV-infected mosquitos caught in surveillance traps around the province.

For more information on WNV, go to the Saskatchewan government website at and the SCHR website at

The map is based on the number of WNV-infected mosquitos caught in surveillance traps around the province. It will be posted every Tuesday until the end of the risk season from the end of June to September.

Dr. Hudson says even during low risk periods, residents should take the same personal precautions against mosquito bites.

"Taking some simple steps to get into the habit of preventing mosquito bites now, and reducing mosquito habitat, will help reduce your risk and your family's risk later in the summer when we begin to see more Culex tarsalis mosquitos and when they begin to become infected with WNV," she says.

"The most important thing is to avoid all mosquito bites, but particularly at the times that the mosquitos carrying WNV are most active, at dusk and dawn," she says.

Dr. Hudson says people should remember to use an insect repellent with DEET and wear protective light-coloured clothing at dusk and dawn. They should reduce the places that mosquitos lay eggs, by reducing the standing water in the places where they work and play. They should also mosquito-proof their home.

SCHR's Supervisor of Public Health Inspection says mosquito monitoring traps are placed in two locations in Weyburn and three locations in Estevan.

Grant Paulson says the traps operate from early June until September.

"Specimens from the traps are submitted weekly to track the mosquito population as well as to determine the types of mosquitos and their West Nile Virus infection rates," he says.

"The City of Weyburn, the Rural Municipality of Weyburn, the City of Estevan and the Rural Municipality of Estevan have been applying larvacide to mosquito breeding areas in and around the cities since early May and will continue their programs throughout the summer," says Grant.


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