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All quiet on West Nile front

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With the cool weather making mosquitoes less and less of a threat, it looks like the Northwestern Health Unit has seen just one dead crow deemed a presumed victim of West Nile virus.

“The last couple weeks have been kind of quiet,” public health officer Brian Norris said Thursday morning, referring to the media buzz—and subsequent local talk—about the virus.

“We’re still getting people phoning, the last one was from Stratton. And we have two birds in the fridge, ready to go,” he added. “But all the birds we’ve sent away since July have come back with no signs of the virus.”

Norris said rumours of animals—or even people—in the area having the West Nile virus are false to the best of his knowledge.

“I’m sure if there were any cases, we’d know,” he remarked. “And I haven’t heard of any livestock or pets having it.”

No veterinarians could be reached for comment by press time today.

The crow found in Kenora that was “presumptive positive” was reported in late August.

The West Nile virus is spread to humans by the bite of an infected mosquito. Mosquitoes become infected by biting an infected bird.

The virus is not spread by person-to-person contact and it cannot be spread directly from bird to human, the health unit said.

The risk of becoming seriously ill as a result of an infection with West Nile virus is low.

And most people who become infected experience no symptoms or have a very mild illness, with fever, headache, muscle weakness, or body aches, the health unit reported.

Those at increased risk of severe illness are individuals over age 50 and those with weakened immune systems, it added.

Symptoms of West Nile virus encephalitis (the rare but serious form of the disease) include severe headache, stiff neck, nausea, and vomiting, and an altered level of consciousness and mental state.

The health unit said it will continue to monitor the West Nile virus in this area.

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