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June 10, 2002
West Nile Virus summer strategy presented
  
A report on this summer's monitoring and surveillance strategy for West Nile
Virus (WNV) is being presented today to the Toronto Board of Health. The
strategy includes a public information campaign with Toronto Transit Commission
advertisements and a WNV information line.

Toronto Public Health will work with Parks and Recreation staff to trap and
test mosquitoes for the virus and to collect data on mosquito breeding sites.
The public is no longer being asked to report dead blue jays and crows for
pick-up and testing.

Dr. Karl Kabasele, staff physician on the WNV campaign, emphasized the low risk
of infection to the public. "We expect the virus will be found again this year
in Toronto, but the risk of becoming seriously ill from the virus remains
extremely low."

There have been no human cases of the virus acquired in Canada. The majority of
those exposed in the United States have shown no symptoms. People at increased
risk of severe illness are individuals over 50 years of age and people with
weak immune systems.

West Nile Virus is found in birds and can be transmitted to humans by the bite
of an infected mosquito. Last year the virus was detected in 41 bird carcasses
in Ontario. Because the presence of the virus is now confirmed in the province,
birds will only be collected by City staff for testing at the Canadian
Co-operative Wildlife Health Centre in Guelph. The provincial health ministry
has provided funding to local health units for WNV monitoring and has limited
local authorities to testing four bird carcasses a week.

Toronto residents are being asked to remove standing or stagnant water around
the home, business and cottage, and to use insect repellent and wear light
coloured, long-sleeved shirts and pants.

Information about West Nile Virus is available at
http://www.city.toronto.on.ca/health, or by calling 416-338-7600.

The Board of Health meets today at 1 p.m., Committee room 1, 2nd floor, City
Hall.


Media Contact
Media contact:
Mary Margaret Crapper, Toronto Public Health,
416-338-7873

 

 

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