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36 year old man Toronto's first case of West Nile Virus this year

File photo of a mosquito. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention/James Gathany

A 36 year old man has been diagnosed with West Nile Virus (WNV) — the city’s first case of the illness this year.

Toronto Public Health said Friday the man was hospitalized and is now recovering at home.

“Although the number of human cases has been declining steadily in the past few years, it is still important to take precautions,” Dr. Herveen Sachdeva, associate Medical Officer of Health, said in a statement. “Most human cases of West Nile Virus are contracted at this time of year.”

There was one human case last year and no reported cases in 2009 and 2008.

The last time someone died because of West Nile Virus was in 2005. The illness first appeared in the city in 2002.

An elderly woman in Burlington is believed to have died from the virus last week. Initial reports from the Ontario public health laboratory in Toronto showed the woman, who was in her seventies, died of WNV.

Further tests to confirm this diagnosis are underway.

The last WNV-associated death in Halton Region was in 2002.

While the overall risk of contracting the virus is low — about 80 per cent of people bitten by an infected mosquito don’t get sick and less than one per cent becomes seriously ill — local health officials are urging people to take precautions, which include:

–use a mosquito repellent containing DEET
–wear light-coloured clothing and cover up in areas where mosquitoes are present
–take precautions, especially in early morning and early evening, when mosquitoes are most active
–repair any holes in door and window screens

Symptoms of WNV include stiff neck, confusion, severe headache and sudden sensitivity to light.

Mosquitoes are collected and tested for WNV on a weekly basis across the city. Infected mosquitoes have been found in 68 traps this year — up from 19 positive traps last year.

Catch basins and other areas with standing water are treated with larvicide to prevent the spread of the virus.

Click here for more information on WNV.

With files from Ashleigh Smollet