A dead crow found in the town of Parry Sound, Ontario, Canada has tested positive for West Nile virus (WNV). This is the first case in the North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit area that a bird has tested positive for the virus in 2008.
West Nile virus is a mosquito-borne disease that usually causes only mild illness in humans. More serious illness is possible, especially in elderly people and those who have weakened immune systems.
The North Bay Parry Sound District Health Department has been investing significant effort into the surveillance of West Nile virus (WNV), and taking steps to reduce human illness caused by the virus.
A thorough surveillance is being carried out by the North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit to determine whether mosquitoes in the vicinity of the dead bird are carrying the virus.
Infected birds are usually the first sign of WNV in an area. Mosquitoes get the virus by feeding on infected birds. The infected mosquito then passes the virus to humans through a bite. There have been no reported cases of WNV in humans this year in Ontario.
Peter Jekel, director of environmental health program said, "At this time of year, the most important precautions you can take is to ensure that potential mosquito breeding sites are eliminated and use personal protective measures."
"Use insect repellant containing DEET; wear light colored, long sleeved shirts, long pants, shoes and socks; and avoid going out during dawn and dusk," he added.
Jekel also advises people to drain any areas of standing or stagnant water on a property, remove old tires, turn over pails, toys and wheelbarrows, other trapped spaces, and to frequently change the water in birdbaths.
The Health Unit recommends that people use simple protective measures like installing or repairing window and door screens so that mosquitoes cannot get indoors.
People are also asked to note that the concentration of DEET should not be more than 30 per cent for adults and not more than 10 per cent for children. Care should be taken to follow the recommendations by Health Canada and the Canadian Paediatric Society for applying insect repellant containing DEET on children.