Manitoba’s 1st case of West Nile virus this year identified in person in Winnipeg area

Manitoba has confirmed its first case of West Nile virus this year, while three probable cases are still being investigated, the province says in a news release.

The confirmed case is a person in their 40s who lives in the Winnipeg health region and was hospitalized after experiencing neurological symptoms, the release said.

A public health investigation into that case is complete and determined the person was likely exposed to the virus in late June or early July.

If the three probable cases are confirmed to be West Nile, more details will be posted on Manitoba Health’s West Nile virus page, where the province also posts weekly updates with regional surveillance information.

In 2022, there were seven confirmed cases of West Nile virus in Manitoba. Five needed hospitalization, the release said. 

The risk of exposure to the virus is considered high right now, the province said.

Weather conditions have been favourable for Culex tarsalis mosquitoes, which is the species that carries West Nile virus. So far, 45 pools of mosquitos infected with West Nile virus have been identified in Manitoba this year — with eight of those identified last week.

West Nile virus can be transmitted through a single bite from an infected mosquito. While most people who are infected will develop only mild symptoms if they have any at all, some can develop severe symptoms that require hospitalization and even die, the province said.

Recovery from a West Nile virus infection, especially if the symptoms are severe, can take months or years.

The province said Culex tarsalis mosquitoes usually feed between dusk and dawn and often go unnoticed when biting. 

Manitobans can reduce the risk of mosquito bites and potential exposure to the virus by reducing time spent outdoors between dusk and dawn, using a mosquito repellent, wearing light-coloured and loose clothing with long sleeves and pant legs, maintaining door and window screens and cleaning and emptying yard items that collect water, the release said.

More information about how to prevent West Nile virus and what its symptoms are is available on the province’s website. Manitobans can also contact Health Links-Info Santé at 204-788-8200 or toll-free at 1-888-315-9257 for more information.