Mosquitoes carrying the West Nile virus have been found in Markham, Ont., public health officials confirm.
York Region confirmed the positive tests in a news release issued late Friday afternoon, saying the mosquitoes were found in a trap near the intersection of Warden Avenue and Highway 7.
“Although the chance of being bitten by an infected mosquito is rare, residents are advised to take precautions when outside in the early morning and evening to prevent mosquito bites and reduce the chance of getting West Nile virus,” York Region’s Medical Officer of Health Dr. Karim Kurji said in a statement.
“West Nile virus can be passed through the bite of an infected mosquito and may cause serious illness.”
Symptoms include fever, muscle weakness, confusion, rashes, headaches and a sudden sensitivity to light. In very rare cases, it can cause serious neurological illness.
Symptoms generally show between two and 15 days after infection.
Officials say that residents should ensure they remove “mosquito-friendly areas” near their home. This can mean cleaning up stagnant water found in flower pots, swimming pool covers or bird baths and ensuring that window screens in their residences fit properly.
They also urge anyone who is outdoors to wear protective clothing and to use insect repellent. Mosquitoes are most active at dusk and dawn, so officials say residents should limit their outdoor activity around that time.
York Region uses mosquito traps to capture and test mosquitoes for West Nile and to determine where they are in the community.
There have been no reported human cases of the West Nile virus in Ontario so far this year.