July 21, 2003

York Region announces West Nile Virus Registry

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NEWMARKET - York Region Health Services is working actively to control West Nile virus in our community. That work includes preparing for the possible application of the insecticide malathion to control the adult mosquito population. York Region Associate Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Hanif Kassam, today announced a registry for those who have health concerns related to the use of malathion and who request personal advanced notification of plans to apply malathion in their area.

The multifaceted York Region West Nile virus control strategy includes extensive public education; mosquito, bird and human surveillance, and mosquito control activities. All of these activities are aspects of the Region's West Nile virus contingency plan.

This contingency plan also includes the possibility of ultra low volume application of the insecticide malathion to control the adult mosquito population. This action is termed "adulticiding" and will be considered by local health units if, based on a local risk assessment, the Medical Officer of Health determines that it is required to decrease the risk of West Nile virus.

"As with any contingency plan, the decision to adulticide may not need to be made," commented Dr. Kassam. "If it is required, however, York Region is ready to take whatever action is necessary to protect the health of the public."

Should adulticiding be necessary, York Region is committed to notifying residents in the affected areas a minimum of 48 hours prior to application. Notification will be given by at least two of three means, namely print media (newspapers), broadcast media (television and radio), or door-to-door notices.

Health Canada's Pest Management Regulatory Agency affirms that, when used properly, the ultra-low application of malathion is a safe practice for the control of adult mosquitoes that pose a nuisance or public health hazard.

It is recognized, however, that some individuals may desire additional, personal notification of adulticiding plans because of health-related concerns, including persons with environmental sensitivities.

York Region extends an invitation for individuals to register for the West Nile Virus Registry. In addition to the regular notification methods, those registered will receive personal notification by telephone of plans to adulticide in their area to allow time enough to take appropriate precautions and/or to make alternate living arrangements. The registry is voluntary and does not require physician verification.

York Region offers the registry as a courtesy to residents. Not all provincial health units have chosen this enhanced level of public notification.

For further information or to register, contact York Region Health Services Health Connection at 1-800-361-5653, or visit one of the remaining West Nile virus community open houses between 7:00 and 8:30 p.m. in the Council Chambers of the following municipalities:

Residents are also invited to visit www.region.york.on.ca for information on West Nile virus, the community open houses, the Region's contingency plan and mosquito control activities, including adulticiding.

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 and Whitchurch-Stouffville.  For more information, visit our Web site at:  www.region.york.on.ca

Contact: Patrick Casey, Senior Media Relations Specialist, York Region

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