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West Nile monitoring underway

The regional health department has started its annual West Nile Virus monitoring program, and is offering tips to residents on how to avoid contracting the illness from infected mosquitoes.

The regional health department has started its annual West Nile Virus monitoring program, and is offering tips to residents on how to avoid contracting the illness from infected mosquitoes.

The regional health department has started it annual surveillance activities for the West Nile virus.

West Nile virus is a mosquito-borne disease that is spread to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito, and can cause high fever, headache, chills, excessive sweating, weakness, fatigue, swollen lymph nodes, drowsiness, pain in the joints and flu-like symptoms.

To combat the virus for 2016, the region will be trapping adult mosquitoes to see if they are infected. The region will also be monitoring larval mosquitoes.

“Mosquitoes lay their eggs in standing water,” states Ross MacEachern, the manager of environmental health with the health department, in a news release.

“Area residents are reminded to remove or cover any standing water around their homes to help reduce the development of mosquito larvae.”

To help minimize the amount of breeding sites for mosquitoes, the region is recommending residents chlorinate rain barrels or cover them with a mosquito screening, drain water from areas such as pools and chair covers, and containers such as ceramic pots, wading pools, bird baths, planters, etc., check that roof gutters are clear and drain properly, clean and properly maintain swimming pools and outdoor hot tubs, remove all unused tires from your property and ensure that drainage ditches are not backed up.

To help reduce being exposed to West Nile, the health department advises residents to wear shoes, socks and light-coloured clothing with long sleeves and full-length pants when outside, especially overnight, between dusk and dawn, when mosquitoes are most active, to use insect repellent containing DEET on exposed skin, ensure doors and windows have screens that are tight-fitting and in good repair. Keep grass, shrubs and hedges trimmed and to turn over compost piles regularly.

For more information, please contact the health department’s Environmental Help Line at (905) 723-3818.