West Nile virus found in Haliburton County
|By Alex Coop - Staff Writer | July 20, 2017|
Cover up and keep that bug spray close.
Mosquitoes collected in Gooderham July 6 tested positive for the West Nile virus (WNV), according to the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit (HKPR).
The virus could also be carried by mosquitos in other areas of Haliburton County, says Richard Ovcharovich, HKPR’s manager of environmental health.
“Just because we find it in a certain place it doesn’t mean it’s not in other areas,” Ovcharovich told The Highlander, adding he doesn’t recall pools of mosquitoes testing positive for West Nile in Haliburton County before.
There were a total of 211 pools that tested positive for WNV in Ontario in 2016, which led to 50 reported human cases.
And while there are currently no human cases reported in Haliburton County, Ovcharovich says it’s important for the public to take precautionary measures against the virus.
“We don’t want to raise panic, we want to raise awareness. We want people to enjoy the great outdoors, but just be aware, and take the appropriate precautions,” he said.
That includes wearing light-coloured, long-sleeved clothing at dusk and dawn, when mosquitoes are most active, and applying insect repellent containing DEET on exposed skin.
At home, people should also drain stagnant water, clean eavestroughs and trim bushes regularly.
“Even old tires sitting outside can collect water, which will attract mosquitoes,” said Ovcharovich.
Eagle and Moose Lake were also tested for the virus.
These test sites contain strategically placed mosquito traps, often near residential areas, nursing homes and schools, says Ovcharovich.
The traps contain dry ice. When the ice melts, it releases carbon dioxide, which attracts the mosquitoes.
Not all mosquitoes, however, carry the WNV. The culex mosquitoes are the primary carriers of the virus.
There are 67 species of mosquitoes in Ontario.
Most people bitten by mosquitoes carrying West Nile won’t experience any symptoms, says Ovcharovich. A small number of people may experience flu-like symptoms, such as a stiff neck, general soreness and a fever. In rare cases – less than one per cent, according to Public Health Ontario - more severe symptoms can occur, including confusion, tremors and sudden sensitivity to light.
Anyone experiencing these symptoms should contact their healthcare professional immediately, says Ovcharovich.
As of July 2, there were eight WNV positive mosquito pools from five different health units, according to Public Health Ontario.
HKPR has provided hospitals in the county with information pamphlets that are available in emergency rooms and in the main lobbies, says Carolyn Plummer, Haliburton Highlands Health Services CEO.
“Since the time the virus was discovered locally, we have not seen any patients with the symptoms associated with West Nile virus,” Plummer said.
ALEX COOP is a reporter for The Highlander.