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August 30, 2005
West Nile Virus deaths reported in Toronto
  
Dr. David McKeown, Toronto's Medical Officer of Health, is reporting two deaths
this past weekend resulting from West Nile Virus infection.

A 63-year-old male resident of Scarborough died on Friday and a 90-year-old
male resident of Etobicoke died Saturday. The cause of death in both cases was
confirmed today. There are now 15 human cases of West Nile Virus reported in
Toronto.

"These deaths are an unfortunate reminder that West Nile Virus can be a serious
health threat, although death is extremely rare," said Dr. McKeown.

There were six human cases of West Nile Virus with no deaths in Toronto last
year and in 2003 there were 44 human cases with no deaths. In 2002, the first
year West Nile Virus was detected in Toronto, there were 10 deaths and 166
cases, although the data for that year is incomplete.

"We are now at the peak of West Nile Virus season and everyone should take
precautions to avoid mosquito bites," said Dr. McKeown.

Residents are reminded to:
- take precautions in the early morning and evening, when mosquitoes are most
active
- wear light coloured clothing, long sleeve shirts, long pants and socks
- use repellant containing DEET when outdoors in areas with mosquitoes
- repair any holes in door and window screens
- eliminate mosquito breeding sites around the home.

About 20 per cent of people who are bitten by a mosquito infected with West
Nile Virus will experience mild, flu-like symptoms such as fever, headaches and
body aches that may be accompanied by skin rash and swollen glands.

Less than one per cent of those infected become seriously ill with symptoms
that include stiff neck, confusion, severe headache and sudden sensitivity to
light. Anyone suffering swelling or infection from a mosquito bite should seek
medical attention. Those over the age of 55 and people with compromised immune
systems are at higher risk.

For more information visit the Web site at http://www.toronto.ca/health or call
416-338-7600.

Media contact:
Frank Giorno, Toronto Public Health, 416-338-7974



 

 

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