john filion

Toronto councillor John Filion diagnosed with West Nile virus

Toronto city councillor John Filion has been diagnosed with West Nile virus. Filion, who represents Ward 18 Willowdale, confirmed the diagnosis in a tweet on Saturday.



In his Aug. 28 Willowdale E-newsletter, Filion said he first noticed symptoms on Aug. 17, after he woke up with an extreme case of double vision, followed by an extremely high temperature and high blood pressure.

“This led me to Michael Garron Hospital, where I was admitted and sent for a battery of tests. After more than a week, I got the surprising result: West Nile virus,” Filion wrote. “I am extremely grateful to the doctors at Michael Garron who were able to make the West Nile diagnosis because they kept testing for everything until they hit on the right one — even though the original symptoms did not entirely match.”

He added that he is now at home dealing with one remaining symptom: extreme fatigue.

“There are only a handful of West Nile cases in Toronto each year. The virus is spread by mosquitoes. It is a very random thing that the mosquito found me, but mine is a cautionary tale that you can’t be too careful about protecting yourself outdoors,” Filion wrote.

West Nile virus is an infection transmitted to people through the bite of an infected mosquito. Symptoms can include fever, headache, nausea, vomiting, body aches, skin rash, and swollen lymph glands.

Symptoms usually develop between two and 14 days after a person is bitten by an infected mosquito, but the elderly (or those with compromised immune systems) are at higher risk of severe illness.

Last Tuesday, Toronto Public Health received a positive laboratory report identifying Toronto’s first reported case of West Nile virus for 2020 in an adult resident.



According to the city, the risk of getting infected in Toronto is currently low, but they’re advising residents to take precautions to avoid bites from infected mosquitoes. This includes wearing light-coloured clothing and covering up when outdoors, applying insect repellent containing DEET or icaridin, ensuring your home has tight-fitting screens on windows and doors, and removing standing water from your property, where mosquitoes can breed.

On Friday, York Region also reported its first human case of West Nile virus for 2020. York Region monitors West Nile virus activity by setting mosquito traps and testing for the virus.

In early August, the regional municipality reported that one mosquito trap in the City of Markham had tested positive for West Nile virus, located near the intersection of Warden Avenue and Highway 7.

York Region Public Health officials use larvicides in catch basins to control mosquito breeding along municipal roads and other stagnant public water sources.

Click here for more information on West Nile virus surveillance in Ontario.

Article exclusive to TRNTO