2018 records highest number of West Nile cases in Alberta since 2007

By Taylor Chartrand
May 15, 2019 - 3:08pm Updated: May 15, 2019 - 7:08pm


MEDICINE HAT, AB - Last year, Alberta recorded 50 cases of the West Nile virus, its highest amount since 2007.

40 of those cases came from right here in the south zone.

This year, Superintendent of Parks with the City of Medicine Hat, Dave Genio, says compared to 2018, there hasn't been much resting water in Medicine Hat.

He believes that should make for less mosquito's and less of a chance to catch the virus.

Genio says the City hasn't received any special orders from Alberta Health Services (AHS) to do anything differently this year to help mitigate the mosquito population.

"We usually rely on what AHS informs us about the risk," explained Genio. "We will of course be conversing and conferring with AHS if we start to see increased numbers or if we start to hear of further cases of West Nile virus that may be shown throughout the City."

Genio says in the coming weeks, crews will be out performing their 'dip-count checks' on approximately 60-locations, to see whether or not the City needs to increase or maintain their regular control.

"We have a great, trained staff that goes out there and completes the dip-count checks for us. If we see that our numbers are high enough and we're getting to that point, then we make the decision for control."

If necessary, Genio says they will use an environmentally compatible biological larvicide to control the mosquito population.

"It's actually a granular that's spread on the perimeter of the water body and what that does, is the larvae ingest it and that actually effects their intestinal track and they're not able to form into an adult mosquito."

For the time being though, Genio says residents should remain diligent throughout the region.

"Just checking their rain spouts and eaves-troughs. Basically, anything that could possibly be catching water. Even the smallest amount when it becomes stagnant is the perfect breeding ground for mosquito's."

Genio says if you happen to be out enjoying the parks (especially after a rainfall), he recommends you wear long clothing and apply mosquito repellent to stay protected.

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