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Crows found in Rednersville test positive for West Nile virus

Two dead  American Crows collected on July 6 in Rednersville have tested positive for West Nile Virus.

The birds were sent to the Canadian Cooperative Wildlife Health Centre in Guelph for testing. These birds are the first confirmation of West Nile virus activity in the area this year.

Laboratory results indicate that there is an increased risk of contracting West Nile Virus in the Belleville area. Mosquitoes collected on  July 17 were sent to GDG Laboratory for testing and have been confirmed positive for the virus.  This is the first pool of mosquitoes in Hastings & Prince Edward counties to test positive.

The Hastings Prince Edward Health Unit says this serves as a reminder to take precautions against mosquito bites.

“Although the health unit is not routinely submitting dead crows or other birds at this time, we are trapping mosquitoes on a regular basis at a number of locations for identification and testing purposes,” said Dave Dodgson, Manager, Environmental Health at the health unit. “Since positive birds have been found we are reminding people to take precautions to avoid mosquito bites as we now have confirmation of West Nile virus activity in our area.”

West Nile virus is spread by mosquitoes that have fed on the blood of infected birds.  The virus can cause health problems in people of all ages and health status, however the extent and severity of the symptoms varies from person to person.

The Health Unit says most people who contract West Nile virus will show no symptoms or flu-like symptoms, while older people and those with weakened immune systems may experience more serious complications.   At this time there is no specific treatment for the infection, so protection is the best way to avoid problems.

Residents are reminded to:
·         Avoid areas with high mosquito populations.
·         Wear light-coloured clothing, including long sleeves, pants and a hat, to cover exposed skin even in your own backyard.
·         Use a mosquito repellent containing DEET. Adults can use repellents containing 30 per cent DEET but children should wear a repellent with no more than 6 to 10 per cent DEET. Follow manufacturers’ instructions carefully.
·         Drain any areas of stagnant water on your property. Remove old tires, turn over pails, toys and wheelbarrows, and frequently change the water in birdbaths. Also, keep your eaves troughs clear to avoid trapped water.
·         Take extra precautions from dusk to dawn when mosquito activity is higher.
·         Make sure your door and window screens are not damaged and fit tightly.

For more information go to:
Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care for West Nile virus information:
http://www.health.gov.on.ca/english/public/program/pubhealth/westnile/wnv_mn.html

Public Health Ontario for current Ontario surveillance information:
http://oahpp.ca/resources/vector-borne-disease-surveillance-reports.html#WNV

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