Summer may be coming to a close, but that doesn't mean that Canadians are out of the woods when it comes to bug bites. In fact, the chance of being bitten by insects carrying diseases is on the rise, mostly due to climate change. Mosquitoes in Canada, in particular, pose a higher risk of carrying West Nile.

While Canadians have had to deal with West Nile virus before, experts are also saying that new species of mosquitoes have migrated to Canada, likely because of climate change. With them comes a variety of other health risks, such as dengue fever and the chikungunya virus.

West Nile virus can cause flu-like symptoms, sometimes to a severe degree. While it can be treated, and patients usually recover, it can be fatal.

The appearance of new mosquito species in Canada could have more to do with climate change than previously thought. Manisha Kulkarni, a medical entomologist and associate professor at the University of Ottawa’s School of Epidemiology and Public Health, told Global News, "The longer the growing season, the more (high-)degree days that we have in a given year, the greater the potential for spill-over of virus transmission to humans."

Essentially, if summers keep getting warmer, than mosquitoes will thrive more easily. If they happen to be carrying diseases, then the warm weather will also help those diseases cultivate inside the mosquitoes' bodies.

It's not just mosquitoes that are causing more problems due to climate change, however. There has also been an increase in cases of Lyme disease across North America, partially due to climate change. 

"We’re certainly seeing that it’s warmer and it’s more humid in many places, especially in Canada, in the U.S., in the northeast and the midwest England," Mary Beth Pfeiffer told Global News. She recently wrote a book on the subject, titled Lyme: The First Epidemic of Climate Change.

Lyme disease starts with flu-like symptoms, and can often be identified by the bullseye-like rash that occurs at the site of the tick bite. If left untreated, Lyme can cause facial paralysis, severe headaches, and neurological disorders.

Canadians should do everything they can to stay vigilant about bug bites and possible infections. Prevention is key for most of these illnesses.

Disclaimer: Cover photo used for illustrative purposes only.


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