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WEST NILE VIRUS

- Health Unit Urging Local Residents to Clean Up Standing Water to Reduce Mosquito Breeding Areas -

With the start of summer on the horizon, the risk of West Nile virus is also in the air.

The Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit reminds people to take precautions against West Nile virus by avoiding mosquitoes that can spread the disease. The Health Unit recommends to clean up potential mosquito breeding areas around homes and cottages and cover up when outside to avoid mosquito bites.

“It’s the time of year when we start spending more time outdoors exposing ourselves to mosquitoes. When we clean up mosquito breeding areas, there are fewer mosquitoes to spread West Nile virus and that lowers our risk of being exposed to the virus,” says Christopher Beveridge, Director of Environmental Health with the HKPR District Health Unit.

In 2012, the Health Unit reported two lab-confirmed human cases of West Nile in its region that includes Northumberland County, Haliburton County and the City of Kawartha Lakes. To reduce the risk of West Nile virus, local residents are asked to do the following:

  • Clean up and remove any standing water around homes, cottages or campsites. Mosquitoes need stagnant water to lay their eggs, and even small amounts will do such as that found in bird baths, old tires and unused containers like barrels. Adult mosquitoes also like to rest in dense shrubbery, so people should keep bushes and shrubs clear of overgrowth and debris. Compost piles should be turned on a regular basis as well, and local residents are advised to make sure homes and businesses are ‘bug tight’ by ensuring windows and door screens fit tightly and do not have holes.
  • Cover up when outside by wearing light-coloured clothing such as long-sleeved shirts, jackets, long pants, hats and socks, especially between dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active. Applying federally-registered insect repellent on exposed skin (such as products containing DEET) is also recommended to limit exposure to mosquitoes.

This summer, the Health Unit continues its annual West Nile virus monitoring program. This involves the trapping and testing of mosquitoes to check for the presence of West Nile virus activity in the area.

While most people who get West Nile virus do not experience any symptoms, a small number of individuals may develop flu-like symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, muscle weakness and stiff neck. In a few cases, people may develop more severe symptoms, including confusion, tremors and sudden sensitivity to light. People who suspect they have West Nile virus should seek immediate medical attention.

For more information on West Nile virus, call the Health Unit at 1-866-888-4577 or click here.

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For media inquiries, contact:

Christopher Beveridge, Director of Environmental Health, HKPR District Health Unit, (905) 885-9100.

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