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Mosquitoes test positive for West Nile virus

SIMCOE, ON, SEPT. 25, 2008 – Mosquitoes in a trap in Waterford have tested positive for West Nile virus, confirming the virus is in the area.

The Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit first noted the presence of the disease in late August after a dead crow picked up in Simcoe tested positive. West Nile virus is spread to humans by the bite of an infected mosquito, which itself becomes infected from biting an infected bird. This is the first positive mosquito test in the area.

“There have been no human cases in our area, so we are again encouraging people to cover up, particularly at dusk, and use an insect repellent with DEET,” said Senior Health Inspector Cathy Lanni.

The Health Unit has monitored 16 mosquito traps throughout Haldimand and Norfolk over the summer.

Oxford, Brant, Hamilton and Niagara have also reported positive cases of mosquitoes and/or birds.
The risk of becoming infected with the virus begins around this time of year; peaking in early August and continuing into September.

Four out of five people who get infected with West Nile virus do not show 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 with
weak immune systems, West Nile virus infection can cause serious illness. There is no specific treatment and no vaccine against West Nile virus.

“We continue to encourage residents to report sightings of dead ravens, crows and jays,” Lanni said. “The reporting of dead birds helps in our surveillance of West Nile virus in the area.”

Residents can report dead birds to the Health Unit’s hotline at 519-426-6170 Ext. 3470 or 905-318-6623 Ext. 3470. For more information on West Nile virus, check the Health Unit website at www.hnhu.org.

Media Contact:
Cathy Lanni, Senior Health Inspector
Healthy Environment Team, Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit
519-426-6170 Ext. 3205 or 519-318-6623 Ext. 3205