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News Release

Durham Region reports West Nile virus positive mosquitoes in Pickering and Ajax

WHITBY, ON,  August 2, 2013 - Durham Region Health Department has received notification of adult mosquitoes that have tested positive for West Nile virus (WNV). The mosquitoes were collected on July 30 from one of the Health Department’s permanent mosquito trap sites located in Ajax.  Positive confirmation was received by the Health Department on August 2. A total of five groups of mosquitoes have now tested positive for WNV in Durham Region this season.   As of July 27, 2013, a total of 22 groups of mosquitoes have tested positive for WNV across the province; 16 of these groups of mosquitoes were found in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA).

“Historically August and September are the months when most human WNV cases occur so it is important to remind area residents to continue to take precautions to avoid mosquito bites. Positive mosquito results continue to be confirmed locally and across the GTA,” said Laura Freeland, Manager, Environmental Health with Durham Region Health Department. WNV is a mosquito-borne disease that is spread to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito. Mosquitoes become infected by feeding on the blood of a bird that carries the virus. The disease is not passed from person to person or from bird to person. Most people who contract the virus will experience mild illness including fever, headache, body ache, nausea, vomiting and rash on the chest, stomach or back. More serious symptoms can include muscle weakness, stiff neck, confusion, tremors, numbness and sudden sensitivity to light. Symptoms usually develop between two and 15 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito.

To minimize the risk of mosquito bites and the possibility of being infected with WNV, the Health Department recommends taking the following precautions:

  • Wear shoes, socks and light-coloured clothing, including long sleeve tops and full-length pants, when outside especially during evening, nighttime or dawn when mosquitoes are most active.
  • Use insect repellent containing DEET on exposed skin, following Health Canada’s safety tips on using personal insect repellents. More information on using insect repellents containing DEET can be found in Health Canada’s pamphlet “Safety Tips on Using Personal Insect Repellent”.
  • Ensure that window and door screens are in good repair to prevent mosquitoes from entering your home.
  • Prevent stagnant water from accumulating on your property.

The Durham Region Health Department will continue to conduct its annual WNV control program through to the end of September 2013. The control program includes active surveillance for both larval and adult mosquitoes in conjunction with a larviciding program that targets standing water in identified sites such as catch basins and storm water management ponds.

As directed by the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, dead birds are no longer collected and submitted for WNV testing. However, the Health Department continues to use indicators such as adult and larval mosquito surveillance to determine the risk of West Nile virus for area residents. For more information on WNV, please call the Health Department’s Environmental Help Line at 905-723-3818 or 1-888-777-9613.

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Media Inquiries:
REGIONAL MUNICIPALITY OF DURHAM
Alicia Cowan - Health Department 905-668-7711, ext. 2952