May 12, 2008
Media Release

York Region West Nile virus bird surveillance program begins

 
NEWMARKET – The Regional Municipality of York West Nile virus bird surveillance program begins today.  Residents are asked to report dead crows and blue jays to help determine possible West Nile virus activity in York Region.
 
Like in humans, West Nile virus is transmitted to the bird population by infected mosquitoes.  Crows, blue jays and other birds are known to be most susceptible to the disease and act as early warning signs for the presence of the virus in a particular area.
 
In 2007, York Region had one confirmed human case of West Nile virus, one bird tested positive for West Nile virus and no mosquito pools tested positive for West Nile virus. 
 
Residents are advised to report dead crows and blue jays to the York Region Community and Health Services Health Connection information line at 1-800-361-5653.  Suitable specimens may be collected and submitted to the Canadian Co-operative Wildlife Health Centre in Guelph for testing.
 
• Suitable specimens:  A suitable specimen must be a crow or blue jay that has died less than 24 hours prior to collection.  These birds may be collected by York Region public health and sent for testing.
 
• Unsuitable specimens:  Most dead birds will not be suitable for testing, but knowing what species they are and where they died is important information.  Do not handle birds with bare hands or dispose of dead birds through the municipal garbage system.  If you choose to handle a dead bird, wear rubber gloves, double bag the bird and contact Health Connection for pick-up.
 
• Dead bird pick-up service is available:  Please contact Health Connection for pickup of dead birds of any species.
 
The chances of being bitten by an infected mosquito are rare.  In fact, for the very few who are bitten, most do not even know it.  Approximately four out of five people infected by West Nile virus do not show any symptoms or signs of illness at all.
 
The symptoms for West Nile virus illness consist of fever, muscle weakness, stiff neck, confusion, severe headache and a sudden sensitivity to light.  For a very rare few, the virus causes serious neurological illness, including encephalitis (inflammation of the brain).
 
See the attached York Region’s 2008 West Nile virus Control Plan Fact Sheet for simple, common sense precautions that should be taken.
 
 
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Media Contact: Jennifer Mitchell-Emmerson, Community and Health Services, York Region
 Phone:  905 830-4444, ext. 4016 or After-hours Cell:  905 716-2717
 Email: jennifer.mitchellemmerson@york.ca
 

 Fact Sheet

York Region’s 2008 West Nile virus Control Plan
York Region’s 2008 West Nile virus Control Plan
 
NEWMARKET – The Regional Municipality of York West Nile virus (WNV) Control Plan for 2008 includes:
 
• Public education regarding common sense and effective measures to prevent exposure to WNV
• Mosquito, bird and human surveillance
• WNV control activities, including a larviciding strategy:
o The first larvicide application will be in June, with subsequent applications in July, August and September.  These applications will include all catch basins along Regional and municipal roads and in catch basins on private property as required.
o Larvicide interferes with the mosquito life cycle, preventing the mosquito larva from reaching maturity.  It has been approved by both the provincial and federal governments and is considered low risk for humans, pets and the environment.
o Larvicide will be applied by Ministry of the Environment licensed applicator Canadian Centre for Mosquito Management Inc.  Treated catch basins will be marked with a coloured dot.
o Residents concerned about catch basins on private property are requested to place a mesh screen over the basin to prevent mosquitoes from entering and exiting.  A limited number of rear-yard catch basins located on private property will be treated with larvicide on a
 case-by-case basis.
o If evidence of mosquito breeding is found, larvicide may also be placed in ditches, temporary or permanent standing water pools, including storm water management ponds owned by the Region or local municipality.
 
Protect yourself from WNV

Prevention and protection are the best ways to guard your family from WNV.  These simple and common sense precautions should be taken:
 
• Minimize outdoor activities when mosquitoes are most active, such as dusk, night and dawn
• Wear protective clothing such as long sleeved shirts, full-length pants and socks (with pant legs tucked in wear possible) and light coloured clothing
• Make sure screens on your home are tight-fitting and in good repair
• Eliminate stagnant water around your property which may gather in pool covers, flower pots, children's pools, old tires and birdbaths
 
Report dead crows and blue jays
Residents are reminded to report sightings of dead crows and blue jays to York Region Health Connection at 1-800-361-5653.  Suitable specimens may be collected and submitted to the Canadian Co-operative Wildlife Health Centre in Guelph for testing.  All crows and blue jays that are reported will help to map out possible West Nile virus activity in York Region.
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Media Contact: Jennifer Mitchell-Emmerson, Community and Health Services, York Region
 Phone:  905 830-4444, ext. 4016 or After-hours Cell:  905 716-2717
 Email: jennifer.mitchellemmerson@york.ca

Contact Information
 
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