July 30, 2002
NEWMARKET - York Region Health Services advises that a bird has been tested and is presumed positive for West Nile Virus(WNV), awaiting confirmation from the Federal Laboratory in Winnipeg, Manitoba. The crow was found in the Town of Markham, close to the intersection of Highway 404 and Steeles Avenue East.
"This report does not come as a surprise in light of the fact that positive birds have recently been confirmed in neighbouring areas," said Dr. Hanif Kassam, Director, Public Health Programs and Associate Medical Officer of Health. "Residents can be assured that the risk of coming into contact with the virus is minimal and that appropriate steps continue to be taken to monitor and combat the spread of West Nile Virus in York Region."
West Nile Virus is a viral disease that can be spread to the human population by mosquitoes, which contract the disease after biting an infected bird. The WNV can cause illness in humans, especially the elderly and immune compromised population. Humans cannot get the virus from another person, animal or bird. Illnesses related to mosquito bites and WNV are, in fact, very rare. Health Canada states that in exposed areas, less than 1% of the mosquito population are likely to carry the virus.
In most people, exposure will result in no symptoms. Others may have mild flu-like symptoms or a rash. In more serious cases, encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) can occur, causing severe muscle weakness, headache, stiff neck, vomiting, nausea and eventual deterioration of consciousness or mental state may occur.
In response to this finding and as part of the WNV surveillance program already in place, York Region will be trapping mosquitoes in the vicinity of where the dead bird was found.
York Region Health Services reminds residents to continue to report sightings of dead crows to the Health Protection Division. Crows are known to be the most susceptible to the disease. To date, the York Region WNV surveillance program has sent over 40 birds to the Canadian Wildlife Health Centre in Guelph for testing.
Residents are also reminded that, although the risk of coming into contact with the WNV is minimal, there are precautions that can be taken:
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For more information or to report a dead crow, please call York Region Health Services Health Connection at 1-800-361-5653.
The Regional Municipality of York is committed to providing cost-effective, quality services that respond to the needs of our rapidly growing communities. York Region is comprised of the following nine area municipalities: Aurora, East Gwillimbury, Georgina, King, Markham, Newmarket, Richmond Hill, Vaughan anWhitchurch-Stouffville. For more information, visit our website at: www.region.york.on.ca.
Contact: Patrick Casey, Senior Media Relations Specialist, York Region