WECHU’s West Nile Virus “risk reduction program” now underway

 

Ryan Wise, head co-ordinator with GDG Environment, and assistant co-ordinator Walter Senko check a sample of water for mosquitoes during a demonstration of their work last Friday morning.

Ryan Wise, head co-ordinator with GDG Environment, and assistant co-ordinator Walter Senko check a sample of water for mosquitoes during a demonstration of their work last Friday morning.

Walter Senko, assistant co-ordinator with GDG Environment, shows a water sample with mosquito larvae last Friday. GDG Environment and the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit formally launched this year's West Nile Virus risk reduction program.

Walter Senko, assistant co-ordinator with GDG Environment, shows a water sample with mosquito larvae last Friday. GDG Environment and the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit formally launched this year’s West Nile Virus risk reduction program.

Ryan Wise, head co-ordinator with GDG Environment, demonstrates how larvicide is sprayed during a recent demonstration. The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit and GDG Environment formally announced this year's West Nile Virus risk reduction program last Friday morning.

Ryan Wise, head co-ordinator with GDG Environment, demonstrates how larvicide is sprayed during a recent demonstration. The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit and GDG Environment formally announced this year’s West Nile Virus risk reduction program last Friday morning.

By Ron Giofu

 

The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit (WECHU), in conjunction with GDG Environment, helped launch the 2014 West Nile Virus program Friday morning.

Dr. Allen Heimann, medical officer of health with the WECHU, noted the virus primarily comes from mosquitoes with mosquitoes obtaining the virus through contact with birds. The $128,000 program is similar to the program that has been running since 2002 and is funded by the province picking up a 75 per cent share and the local municipalities a 25 per cent share.

Describing it as a “late summer virus,” Heimann indicated many people may not suffer symptoms but if they do, it could be a flu-like illness. Less than one per cent can suffer more severe symptoms, which include inflammation of the brain.
“It is a potentially serious virus and can have potentially serious consequences,” said Heimann.

While anyone can contract West Nile Virus, those particularly at risk are children and infants and seniors over the age of 65.

“The main way of dealing with the virus is prevention,” Heimann pointed out.

Avoiding areas where mosquitoes are prevalent, he recommended, but if people are in those areas they should wear mosquito repellent containing DEET, long sleeves and pants. Wearing light coloured clothing is also recommended, he stated.

Heimann also said such tips could also reduce the risk of tick bites and the spread of Lyme disease.

Standing water should be eliminated, he added.

“Even in a small cup of water, mosquitoes can breed,” said Heimann.

Ensuring window and door screens fit property and are in good condition will also help, he indicted, as will ensuring that yards are clean and grass is kept short.

The WECHU also stated in a press release that “while part of the West Nile virus strategy involves larviciding in areas where the virus is found, individuals can also make a difference by removing any hazards that could become a reservoir for standing water, such as old tires, upturned wheelbarrows, and unused flower pots. Reducing pools of standing water reduces the places mosquitoes can breed.”

Mark Ardis, project manager with GDG Environment, said there are 60 species in Windsor-Essex County but they are targeting the five or six species that carry West Nile Virus. He said over 40,000 catch basins will be checked, adding they treat catch basins and standing water when mosquitoes are at the larvae stage. Weather can play a factor, but both Heimann and Ardis stated they couldn’t predict whether this year would be a good or bad year for mosquitoes due to constantly fluctuating weather conditions.

Ardis recommended people use the strategy of “drain, dress and defend” against West Nile Virus.

“The number of cases of West Nile Virus can vary from year to year,” said Heimann.

There were five confirmed cases of West Nile Virus in 2013, Heimann added, with 22 cases in 2012 and four in 2011.

“Each year, we have to prepare and assume that West Nile virus is present. Residents should continue to take the proper precautions to protect themselves from being bitten,” said Heimann.

Amherstburg town council was informed of its mosquito program in early-June with the WECHU and GDG Environment working in locations such as the Fraserville area. Town administration said at that meeting that town-owned properties, including ditches, would be tended to and that property owners, particularly those in the Fraserville area of the community, would be subject of violations should grass grow long and not be mowed regularly.

Comments are closed.