News Release headerWest Nile Virus Surveillance Set to Begin. Health Unit Reminds Residents to Protect Themselves from Mosquitos

Tuesday, June 19th, 2018

Perth County – Summer is here and the Health Unit is once again reminding residents about the dangers of West Nile virus.

What is West Nile Virus?

West Nile Virus is a disease that is transmitted to humans by mosquitoes. Many people infected with West Nile Virus will have mild symptoms or no symptoms at all. However, people with weaker immune systems and people with chronic diseases are at greater risk for serious health effects. Over the last several years, mosquitoes carrying West Nile Virus have been found in Perth County. Since 2012, there have been four lab-confirmed cases of West Nile Virus in Perth County. Across Ontario in 2016, six deaths were associated with West Nile virus. “West Nile virus can be a serious illness, and even result in death, so it’s important that people in Perth County take precautions,” says Stephanie Carlisle, Public Health Inspector.

Clean Up Standing Water

People can stop mosquitoes from breeding by getting rid of standing water around their home, farm and workplace at least once a week. “Objects that collect water, like birdbaths, children’s toys, pool covers and tires are perfect mosquito breeding grounds,” advises Carlisle.

Adult mosquitoes also like to rest in dense shrubbery. Keep bushes and shrubs clear of overgrowth and debris, and keep compost piles turned on a regular basis.

Protect Yourself from Mosquito Bites

The Health Unit also recommends that people protect themselves from mosquito bites:

  • Use insect repellent containing DEET or Icaridin on clothing and exposed skin. Icaridin is a similar product to DEET and was registered in 2012 by Health Canada as a safe and effective insect repellent. Always read and follow label directions.
  • Cover up with light-coloured clothes, long sleeves and pants when outdoors or while in areas where mosquito activity is high.
  • Take extra protection measures at dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active.

Health Unit West Nile Virus Prevention Plan

The Health Unit conducts larviciding and mosquito trapping and testing to track the virus in Perth County and help reduce the human health risk. The adult mosquito trapping surveillance program begins the last week of June. Mosquito traps will be hung at specific spots across Perth County. The mosquitoes that are caught are sent for identification and testing for West Nile Virus.

Catch basin larviciding, which helps control mosquito larvae, will take place in July and August in Stratford, Listowel, Mitchell and St. Marys.

“Catch basins are a primary breeding area for mosquitoes that carry the virus,” says Carlisle. “Larval control measures help stop young mosquitoes from growing into adult mosquitoes. It’s the adult mosquitoes that can transmit the virus to humans.”

For more information call Health Line at 519-271-7600 or toll-free at 1-877-271-7348 extension 267. Follow us on Facebook or Twitter.