The Middlesex-London Health Unit is on the mosquito hunt as they set up traps all around the city to test for the West Nile virus.These traps go up on a weekly basis from June to October. The traps are set up for 24 hours then they are collected and sent to labs in Quebec for testing so they can test the specific mosquitoes for West Nile. The hope is to stop the spread of infection into the human population.
Just recently, a positive West Nile infected mosquito has been found in the Pond Mills Area. A reminder that just because you don’t live in Pond Mills doesn’t mean you are free from infection.
Jeremy Hogeveen, the Vector-Borne Disease Coordinator for Middle-sex London Health Unit advises us on some main precautions to take to avoid being bitten:
- Use an insect repellent that uses DEET and following its instructions.
- Removing all standing water. The mosquitoes that are most likely going to bite you are going to be the ones developing in your backyard.
- Regularly changing birdbaths water.
- Tipping over kids toys and kiddie tools.
- Circulating ornamental ponds or adding a pump or fountain.
- Putting screens over rain barrels.
- Emptying rain gutters and flower pots.
- Work with your neighbors and communities to get rid of standing water elsewhere.
- Wearing light-coloured, long sleeved shirts and pants.
- Avoid going outside when mosquitoes are most active, which is near dawn and dusk.
“We have 55-57 different mosquito species in London, so about 12 of those are capable of transmitting the virus.” Says Hogeveen.
The health Unit isn’t trying to scare the public with this West Nile warning, as it’s nothing new and they tend to see the virus coming up positive around this year anyway.
Hogeveen tell us, “We start to see the human cases in later August, early September and sometimes even early October.”The Health Unit just wants to encourage people to take precautions to avoid human infections from breaking out since so far only an infected bug has been discovered.
West Nile is weather dependent and with the predictions of more humid and wet weather on the rise, the mosquitoes will only continue to multiple.
“Mosquitoes can go from an egg to an adult, so their life cycle can go much quicker in this heat – even less
Jeremy Hogeveen setting up an adult trap in the city.
than a week. Each mosquito can lay up to 400 eggs and it becomes a vicious cycle were constantly battling.” Hogeveen explained.
Knowing the virus is here before seeing a human case will definitely help, but only if precautions are taken. If you believe you are bitten you should contact your health care provider and proceed from there.