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June 18, 2001
West Nile virus report presented to Board of Health
Toronto Public Health --- Dr. Barbara Yaffe, Associate Medical Officer of
Health, is presenting a report to the Board of Health today on the prevention
and control of West Nile virus in Toronto.

"We are working with other departments across the City and with other health
units in Ontario to monitor for the presence of West Nile virus and to prepare
for its possible arrival in Toronto," said Dr. Yaffe.

As part of a city-wide surveillance program, the public is asked to report dead
crows and blue jays to the Toronto Public Health Connection line. "These birds
are the most vulnerable to the virus and will be tested to help determine its
presence in Toronto," said Dr. Yaffe.

The report outlines strategies to prevent and control the spread of the virus.
Toronto Public Health has launched a public education campaign to inform
residents of the best protection methods against the virus. The Health
Connection line -- 416-338-7600 -- will respond to inquires about West Nile

The virus has not been detected in Ontario but has been found close to the
Canada-U.S. border. It is transmitted to humans from the bite of an infected
mosquito and may cause encephalitis -- a swelling of the brain -- and in rare
cases, death. The majority of people infected with the virus do not become ill.

The West Nile virus was identified in 1937 and was found for the first time in
North America in New York City in 1999. Since its arrival in the United States,
there have been 83 confirmed cases of virus-related encephalitis and nine

Fact sheets about West Nile virus are available on the City's Web site at For more information, call the Health
Connection line at 416-338-7600.

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