Preventing West Nile Virus Infections

On behalf of Susan Healey, Communications Coordinator, Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit

(Leeds-Grenville, ON) The Leeds Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit would like to remind our citizens that we will be starting our mosquito surveillance program once again this June. This program will be carried through until the end of September. Should you see one of our traps in your neighbourhood, please do not disturb it. These traps are not mosquito control units, so they have no value to property owners, but they are important in identifying mosquitoes and providing a warning that disease causing mosquitoes are present in a given area.

We all play a role in preventing West Nile Virus infections, and when we all do our part we will reduce the risk of this disease in our community.

Each homeowner has the responsibility of removing standing water that provides breeding areas for mosquitoes on their property. Most mosquitoes do not travel large distances and thus those breeding within your space are likely to bite you.

The municipality is charged with the responsibility of ensuring proper drainage on municipally owned lands and public ditches. The roads departments have the knowledgeable staff and proper equipment to ensure this is achieved. Additionally it is a municipal responsibility to address complaints regarding standing water on private land within its jurisdiction, using applicable property standards bylaws. Should positive mosquito pools be identified in a municipality, it is also the responsibility of council to take the necessary control actions as recommended by the Medical Officer of Health.

The health unit has the responsibility of assessing the risk for WNV within the three counties each year. This is accomplished by conducting mosquito surveillance during the warm months. The presence of virus in these natural hosts is an early sign that the virus is gaining a presence in an area. The health unit is also responsible for following up any human cases of diseases and, more importantly, trying to prevent human cases by educating the public on strategies that reduce mosquito breeding areas and personal protection.

Individuals have the responsibility to protect themselves from mosquito bites by avoiding areas with high mosquito populations, wearing light-coloured clothing, including long sleeves, pants and hat, to cover exposed skin and using a mosquito repellent containing the appropriate amount of DEET.

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