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West Nile Virus found in mosquito sample from Picton

Mosquitoes carrying West Nile Virus (WNv) continue to be found in the local area, and have now been found in samples taken from two different locations within the Belleville area, as well as a sample taken from one location within Picton.

“This continued evidence of WNv in our area confirms the virus is established in our region,” said Andrew Landy, senior public health inspector.

Testing will continue to take place throughout the region, to monitor the incidence of WNv as part of regular surveillance by Hastings Prince Edward Public Health (HPEPH).

“These additional findings of WNv in the region emphasize the need for residents to be diligent about protecting themselves and their family by taking precautions to prevent bites and reduce breeding sites,” said Landy.

WNv is an infection found in birds, and carried by mosquitoes that feed on infected birds. WNv is spread to humans and animals through bites by infected mosquitoes. Mosquitoes that may be carrying WNv will typically appear in July and peak in numbers by mid-August.

Early symptoms of WNv can include fever, muscle weakness, stiff neck, confusion, severe headache, sudden sensitivity to light, tremors, numbness, or vision loss. The majority of infected individuals have mild symptoms, or none at all. In severe cases, WNv can cause inflammation of the brain known as encephalitis. If individuals believe they are experiencing early symptoms of WNv, they are encouraged to contact their primary care provider.

Mosquitoes are most active at dawn and dusk. People outside during this time are encouraged to wear light-coloured long-sleeved shirts and long pants, socks and a hat, and use an insect repellant containing DEET or Icaridin. Since mosquitoes lay their eggs in standing water, removing any sources of standing water such as small pools and birdbaths will help reduce the mosquito population. Ensuring that windows and doors are screened will help keep mosquitos outside.

If residents encounter a dead bird or other dead animal, they are advised not to handle it with bare hands, as it could be carrying WNv. Public Health recommends that dead birds or animals be buried using a shovel and gloves, at a depth of at least 50cm in an area that will not be disturbed. Public Health should be notified if clusters of dead birds or animals are found.

Each year, HPEPH monitors the adult mosquito population using carbon dioxide baited light traps at various locations throughout Hastings and Prince Edward Counties. The traps are monitored on a weekly basis, and trapped mosquitoes are shipped to a laboratory where they are tested for WNv, in order to track the presence of the virus in the region.

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