April 19, 2012
Media Release

Beware and be aware of mosquitoes and ticks

York Region programs focus on awareness and surveillance of West Nile virus and Lyme disease
NEWMARKET – The Regional Municipality of York will begin 2012 vector-borne disease program activities in May, focusing on West Nile virus and Lyme disease surveillance, education and mosquito control. 
Vector-borne diseases are transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected vector organism, such as a mosquito or tick.
“In 2011, four mosquito pools tested positive for West Nile virus,” said Dr. Karim Kurji, York Region’s Medical Officer of Health. “Continued emphasis on awareness, surveillance, self protection and larviciding activities will ensure the risk and impact to York Region residents remains low.” 
According to the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, vector-borne diseases of public health concern in Ontario include West Nile virus, Lyme disease and Eastern Equine Encephalitis virus. West Nile virus can be passed to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito. It is established in Ontario, though its severity may vary from year-to-year depending on the weather’s influence on mosquito breeding conditions.
Lyme disease can be passed to humans through the bite of an infected blacklegged tick. In Ontario, blacklegged ticks are more commonly found in rural areas along the north shores of Lake Erie, Lake Ontario, and the St. Lawrence River.
Eastern Equine Encephalitis is an emerging virus spread through the bite of an infected mosquito. The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care has added the surveillance of this virus into existing West Nile virus monitoring programs across Ontario.
Prevention and protection are the best ways to guard yourself and family from vector-borne diseases. Clean up standing water around your home where mosquitoes are likely to breed, cover up and use insect repellent when outdoors and check yourself and family for ticks. If you find a tick, remove the tick quickly and safely. Contact York Region Health Connection for tick identification and testing.
York Region Community and Health Services is responsible for responding to vector-borne diseases of public health importance. The Public Health Branch will continue surveillance, mosquito control and investigation of human cases of vector-borne disease. York Region’s Fight the Bite! education and outreach campaign focuses on West Nile virus and Lyme disease awareness, personal protection and reduction of mosquito breeding sites. It will continue to be an important part of York Region’s vector-borne disease program in 2012.
For more information on vector-borne diseases, personal protection, reporting stagnant water or any other public health related topic, please call York Region Health Connection at 1-800-361-5653, TTY 1-866-252-9933 or visit www.york.ca/westnile
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Media Contact: Lisa Sposito, Community and Health Services, York Region
 1-877-464-9675, ext. 4106 • After-Hours Cell: 905-955-2533 • lisa.sposito@york.ca

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