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FIGHT THE BITE

- West Nile Virus Detected in Mosquitoes Trapped in Lindsay; Area Residents Encouraged to Take Precautions -

Local residents are asked to fight the bite of mosquitoes, now that West Nile virus has been detected for the first time this year in the Health Unit region.

The Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit has received lab confirmation that a batch of mosquitoes collected in Lindsay on August 18 have tested positive for West Nile virus. This is the first time in 2016 that West Nile virus has been detected in Northumberland County, Haliburton County and the City of Kawartha Lakes – the area served by the Health Unit.

“This finding is an important reminder that when we are outdoors, we need to fight the bite of infected mosquitoes that can spread West Nile virus,” says Frances Tsotsos, a Public Health Inspector with the HKPR District Health Unit.

To reduce their risk of West Nile virus, area residents are encouraged to:

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.

Clean up and remove any standing water around their 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 people are advised to make sure homes and businesses are ‘bug tight’ by ensuring windows and door screens fit tightly and do not have holes.

The most recent statistics (as of August 20, 2016) compiled by Public Health Ontario show West Nile virus has been detected in 94 batches of mosquitoes collected across the province. Almost one-third of these findings came during the week of August 14-20.

To date in 2016, one human cases of West Nile virus have been reported in Ontario.

“Mid- to late-summer is typically the time when we see more cases of West Nile virus, so we should continue taking precautions against mosquitoes right up until the first heavy frost in the fall,” Tsotsos notes.

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 about West Nile virus, call the Health Unit at 1-866-888-4577.

For media inquiries, contact:

Frances Tsotsos, Public Health Inspector, HKPR District Health Unit, (705) 457-1391 or 1-866-888-4577.

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