SIMCOE, ON, AUG. 7, 2012 – West Nile Virus has been found to be present in a sample of mosquitoes tested by the Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit during routine surveillance last week. This is the first sample in the area to come back positive since 2008. “West Nile virus has been considered endemic throughout Ontario for quite some time now and many of our neighbouring health units have already reported positive mosquito pools this year” notes Sr. Public Health Inspector, Kris Lutzi. Fortunately, the Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit has not had a reported human case from the area since 2002.
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. Approximately 1% of people infected with the virus get seriously ill.
The Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit will maintain its surveillance efforts in order to further assess the presence of West Nile virus in the area. According to Lutzi, “when it comes to mosquito breeding and West Nile virus, the lack of rain this year is in our favour.” Dry weather means less areas for mosquitoes to breed, reducing the likelihood of people coming into contact with infected mosquitoes.
People should continue to protect themselves from mosquito bites by applying insect repellent with DEET, and wearing light-coloured clothing with long sleeves and pants, particularly at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active.
To reduce mosquito breeding areas around the home, people are urged to:
- Change water in bird baths at least twice a week.
- Always circulate and chlorinate pool water.
- Drain water off pool covers.
- Unclog gutters and drainage ditches.
- Turn over plastic wading pools and wheelbarrows when not in use.
- Remove items such as old tires and buckets that hold standing water.
For more information on West Nile virus, phone the Health Unit or visit its website at www.hnhu.org
Kris Lutzi, BHS, BASc, CPHI (C)
Sr. Public Health Inspector, Healthy Environment Team
12 Gilbertson Dr., Simcoe, ON
Phone: 519-426-6170 ext. 3261