The Eastern Ontario Health Unit (EOHU) has begun its annual monitoring program for the presence of West Nile virus in certain species of mosquito that can carry the virus and pass it on to humans or animals through their bite.
« West Nile virus is a concern in our area, » stated Dr. Paul Roumeliotis, EOHU chief medical health officer, « and people should be aware and take the necessary precautions to protect themselves and their families from mosquito bites when they spend time outdoors. »
Homeowners can reduce the spread of West Nile virus by removing all possible sources of standing water around their grounds that can serve as mosquito-breeding sites. That includes regularly changing the water in bird baths and animal water bowls, and in children’s wading pools.
Anyone with an outdoor pool should make sure the pool water circulation pump is working and the water receives chlorine treatment to make it unsuitable for mosquito habitat. Any wading pools not in use should be emptied out and turned upside down.
Empty out tires that may contain rainwater and check eavestroughs and flat roofs of buildings for any standing water. Apply a bacterial insecticide to water in drainage ditches to deal with any possible mosquito larvae.
Regular yard work like short-cut lawns and trimming of dense shrubbery will help eliminate resting areas for mosquitoes. If the garden has a compost pile, make sure it is turned over on a regular basis.
Anyone who is outdoors for extended periods should wear light-coloured long-sleeved shirts and pants, along with shoes and socks, and a cap or hat. Use insect repellent. If sleeping outdoors, use mosquito netting.
More information on reducing the risk of West Nile virus is available at www.eohu.ca.