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EOHU issues West Nile alert

TheWest Nile virus has been found in some mosquitoes in the EasternOntario region. But local health authorities say there is no cause for alarm. The Eastern Ontario Health Unit (EOHU) has a monitoring program in place to trap and examine samples of the local mosquito population for signs of the West Nile virus. Some of the latest samplings came back with positive test results but Dr. Paul Rou- meliotis, EOHU chief medical health officer, says residents should remain calm as there are still no reports of humans in the region infected with the disease. “The Eastern Ontario Health Unit has been actively monitoring mosquitoes for West Nile virus,” stated Dr. Roumeliotis in an EOHU press release. “This finding shows that West Nile virus remains a concern in our area. Most cases of West Nile virus infec- tions in humans actually occur between the months of August and October, so residents should be aware and take the necessary precautions to protect themselves and their families.” West Nile virus is passed on to humans from the bite of an infected mosquito. But not all mosquitoes are potential carriers. There are just a few types of mosquitoes which can carry the virus. Severity of infec- tion will vary between individuals, though for most people the risk of illness is low. A very small percentagemay be at risk of more severe results if they are not treated. To reduce the risk of West Nile virus, fol-

low standard precautions to prevent mos- quito bites. Use CSA-certified personal insect repellents which containDEET. Keep a light coating on the skin when going outside. Wear light-coloured clothing, including long-sleeved shirts and pants, and also wear socks when outside. Avoid going out at either dusk or dawn when mosquitoes are most active. To prevent mosquitoes from laying eggs near a house or outbuildings, make sure that any containers, including barrels, buc- kets, kiddie pools, saucers, used tires, and such are kept empty of standing water. Any ponds or puddles should be “salted” with an organic pesticide like Vectobac, which uses a bacterium that preys on mosquito larvae but is harmless to anything else. Also keep lawns trimmed short to reduce the amount of wet grass from dew or rainfall. Make sure all door and window screens are in good condition, with no holes, and that doors and window seals are intact to prevent mosquitoes getting inside the house. More information on West Nile virus and mosquito problem prevention is available at the EOHU website at or by phone, toll-free, to the Health Line at 1-800-267-7120.

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