SIMCOE, ON, MAY 14, 2008 – The Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit is once again asking local residents to keep an eye out for dead birds in the fight against West Nile virus.
Residents can report dead birds to the Health Unit’s hotline at 519-426-6170 Ext. 3470.
“The dead-bird surveillance program allows the Health Unit to reduce the impact of West Nile virus in the community,” said Cathy Lanni, Senior Health Inspector with the Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit. “People are encouraged to report sightings of dead crows, jays and ravens.”
West Nile virus is found in wild birds, most commonly in the crow family. The disease can then be passed on to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito.
“Reducing the number of mosquito breeding areas around your home will lower your risk of being bitten by a mosquito,” said Lanni. “Mosquitoes lay their eggs in standing water and the mosquitoes most commonly associated with carrying the West Nile virus require very little standing water to lay their eggs.”
Residents are urged to be aware of the top-10 mosquito breeding sites and clean them regularly:
- Bird baths.
- Old tires.
- Unused containers such as barrels, buckets and pails.
- Flower pot saucers.
- Swimming pool covers.
- Wading pools and fish ponds with no fish in them.
- Clogged gutters and eaves troughs.
- Clogged drainage ditches.
- Small containers such as cans or bottles tops.
- Unused children’s toys or vehicles.
Four out of five people who get infected with West Nile virus do not show any symptoms. Of those who show symptoms, most will experience a very mild illness, including fever, headache, body ache, nausea, vomiting and a rash on the chest, stomach or back. In some people, particularly the elderly and those withsuppressed immune systems, West Nile virus infection can result in serious illness. There is no specific treatment and no vaccine against West Nile virus.
To protect against West Nile virus, people should wear long sleeves and pants, particularly at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active, and apply an insect repellent containing DEET. The concentration of DEET should not be greater than 30% for adults and 10% for children.
Anyone using insect repellents, especially on children, should carefully read the directions on the label Health Canada warns that DEET-type repellents should not be used on children under six months of age.
For more information on West Nile virus or the dead bird surveillance program,phone the Health Unit or visit its website at www.hnhu.org.
Cathy Lanni, Senior Health Inspector
Healthy Environment Team,
Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit
519-426-6170 Ext. 3205