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FIGHT THE BITE

- First Trace of West Nile Virus Discovered in Area, As Mosquitoes Trapped in Lindsay Test Positive for Disease -

With West Nile Virus detected for the first time in the area this summer, local resident are being urged to take extra precautions against the disease – especially heading into the peak months of August and September.

The Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit is issuing that notice after lab results received on Monday (August 5) confirm adult mosquitoes have tested positive for West Nile Virus. The mosquitoes were collected last Wednesday (July 31) from a mosquito trap site located in Lindsay. The Health Unit has similar mosquito trap sites set up throughout its area as part of its West Nile Virus monitoring program this summer.

While these are the first mosquitoes to test positive this year for West Nile Virus in the Health Unit’s region that includes the City of Kawartha Lakes, Northumberland County and Haliburton County, other parts of Ontario have already reported West Nile activity in mosquitoes. Last Friday, Toronto Public Health also announced its first human case of West Nile virus in 2013 involving a 68-year-old man who is now recovering.

“We know West Nile Virus is present in our area, so it is important to take precautions and fight the bite of mosquitoes that can spread the virus to people,” says Christopher Beveridge, Director of Environmental Health with the HKPR District Health Unit. “There is never a good time or reason to be bitten by mosquito, and that’s especially true as we enter the peak season of West Nile Virus activity in August and September.”

The Health Unit reminds people to reduce their risk of West Nile Virus by:

  • Covering 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.
  • Cleaning up and removing 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.

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, call the Health Unit at 1-866-888-4577 or visit www.hkpr.on.ca.

In 2012, the local Health Unit reported two lab-confirmed human cases of West Nile Virus in its region. In 2011, the Health Unit detected no West Nile Virus activity in its area – either in mosquitoes or people.

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For media inquiries, contact:

Christopher Beveridge, Director, Environmental Health, HKPR District Health Unit, (905) 885-9100 or 1-866-888-4577.

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