NEWMARKET York Region Health Services reports that the West Nile virus control program has ended for the season. Although the risk of West Nile virus is lower in cooler weather, mosquitoes remain active. It is not until the first one or two hard frosts occur that mosquitoes become dormant and surveillance activities end.
During the 2006 season, residents had been asked to report dead crows and blue jays as a tool to determine possible West Nile virus activity in York Region. Suitable specimens were collected and submitted to the Canadian Co-operative Wildlife Health Centre in Guelph for testing for the virus.
Many thanks to York Region residents who reported dead birds through the Health Connection information line. As of November 1, 2006:
A total of 1597 dead birds were collected
A total of 34 birds of concern were submitted for testing
A total of 10 birds tested positive for West Nile virus
A total of 10 mosquito pools (or batches) tested positive for the virus
If you find a dead bird, do not handle it with bare hands or dispose of it through the municipal garbage systems. If you choose to handle a dead bird, wear rubber gloves, double bag the carcase and bury under two feet of soil using a spade or shovel.
All West Nile virus surveillance activities including the trapping and testing of mosquitoes have also concluded.
Like humans, West Nile virus is transmitted to the bird population by infected mosquitoes. Crows, blue jays and other raptorial species are known to be most susceptible to the disease and enabled the West Nile virus team to track the travel of the virus through the region.
This years surveillance program highlights relatively high West Nile virus activity in 2006, with 10 birds and 10 mosquito pools (or batches) testing positive for the virus in York Region. There were 3 human cases of West Nile virus reported. In comparison, 5 human cases, 22 birds and 14 mosquito pools tested positive for the virus in York Region in 2005.
For more information on this or any other health-related questions, contact York Region Health Services Health Connection at 1-800-361-5653.
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For more information on the Regional Municipality of York and our services, please visit www.york.ca
Media Contact: Jennifer Mitchell-Emmerson, York Region Health Services
Phone: (905) 830-4444 ext. 4016 or after-hours pager (905) 830-3302