MONTREAL – According to the latest data from the Ministry of Health in Quebec, 2018 was a record for the cases of the West Nile virus. As to what Quebeckers expect this year, it will turn out to be …
201 people were infected with a mosquito bite virus, according to doctors last year: this is the top because data is counted in 2002. 2018 was also deadly and 15 people were killed. All cases reported in 2018 were acquired in Quebec, with the exception of one.
We can not yet predict what damage mosquitoes will cause in a given year, "said Julie Ducrocq, a scientist at the National Institute of Public Health in Quebec (INSPQ), specializing in disease issues. transmitted by mosquitoes.
For example, the second largest peak was recorded in 2012, in 134 cases. But in the following year, the decline was significant because only about thirty people were infected. The record from 2018 therefore does not seem to help to predict the situation that will prevail in the summer of 2019.
During these two record years, the region where most people are infected with mosquito-borne viruses is Montérégie and then the island of Montreal.
These cases are regularly reported by the treating physicians, as this is required by law.
In Quebec, like anywhere else in Canada, the prevalence of West Nile virus is variable and difficult to predict year by year, says Quebec Health Minister.
"We would like to know the reasons for growth in 2018," said Ms. Ducrocq in an interview.
If we take into account that Lyme disease, caused by the bite of infected ticks, also showed an upward trend, "we are quite sure that climate change is a factor that affects," he adds.
Reported cases are only part of the actual number of people infected with the Nile virus, because according to the scientific literature only 20 percent have symptoms. Others do not have any or just a few – sometimes light flu symptoms that make people even do not consult a doctor, and the immune system itself fights an infection, says a science advisor.
But for others, the consequences can be serious: among 201 cases reported last year 148, they had neurological involvement, such as meningitis (cerebral envelope infection) or encephalitis (encephalitis).
Because INSPQ can not predict the activity of infected mosquitoes this year, the Institute recommends that people do not take risks and avoid biting. It is recommended to use mosquito repellents, wearing long, light clothes, especially at sunrise and dusk, when these insects are more active. People are encouraged to keep their mosquito nets and get rid of backwaters in their courtyards, such as the one that stands in pots and bathtubs where mosquitoes like to breed.
In Quebec, the virus was first identified in 2002. Currently, it is present in several regions, especially in the southern part of the province. For the first time since the beginning of the human case observation, Saguenay Lac-Saint-Jean is one of the likely places of the sting.
These data were developed by the Department of Health Observation of the Department of Public Health Protection of the Quebec Ministry of Health, in cooperation with INSPQ.
Stéphanie Marin, The Canadian Press