June 23, 2003

York Region reports first positive West Nile Virus mosquito pool

Newmarket: York Region Associate Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Hanif Kassam, advises that a mosquito pool has been tested and is reported as positive for West Nile virus (WNv). The mosquitoes were trapped in the Town of Whitchurch-Stouffville, close to the intersection of Aurora Sideroad and Ninth Line. The positive mosquito pool is the first this year in York Region and the province.

There were 14 positive mosquito pools reported last year in York Region. To date in 2003, two crows have tested positive for WNv, one found in Newmarket and one in Aurora.

"This is not a surprise. We have already confirmed West Nile virus activity this year," said Dr. Hanif Kassam, Associate Medical Officer of Health for York Region. "Knowing where that activity is allows us to take appropriate action to monitor and prevent the spread of West Nile virus in our community."

Trapping mosquitoes is part of the 2003 York Region WNv control plan. Traps are set up at various locations throughout the Region, with mosquitoes sent for testing. The positive mosquitoes were trapped June 18th.

Larviciding of catch basins in the area has been completed, as part of the York Region WNv control plan. Larviciding interferes with the mosquito life-cycle, preventing the mosquito larva from reaching maturity.

The WNv control plan also includes mosquito, bird and human surveillance. Mosquito surveillance in the area includes dipping for mosquito larvae in surrounding bodies of standing water on public property. If larvae are found, the application of larvicide will be considered. Residents who are concerned about bodies of standing water on private property can contact Health Connection for direction.

"Prevention and protection remain the best ways to protect yourself from WNv," added Dr. Kassam. "It is important that residents take the proper precautions and protective measures."

WNv is transmitted by infected mosquitoes. In humans, it takes about 3 to 15 days after a bite from an infected mosquito for flu-like symptoms to begin. Most people infected will have no symptoms or very mild illness. Symptoms range from mild fever and headache to loss of consciousness, seizures, weakness on one side of the body and swelling of the brain resulting in brain damage.

There are simple and common sense precautions that should be taken:

For more information on West Nile virus or any health-related concern, contact York Region Health Services Health Connection at 1-800-361-5653 or visit www.region.york.on.ca.


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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