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May 26, 2004
Public Health launches West Nile Virus program
Toronto Public Health today launched this year's program to reduce risks
associated with West Nile Virus. The plan involves surveillance of birds and
mosquitoes for the virus and the placing of larvicide in City-owned storm water
catch basins. Residents can report dead birds for pick-up and request
assistance to deal with pools of stagnant water.

Associate Medical Officer of Health Dr. Karl Kabasele said that taking personal
precautions and reducing mosquito breeding sites are still the best methods of
prevention against the virus.

"Although the number of human cases decreased significantly last year compared
to 2002, we know the risk is still present. People should wear appropriate
clothing and use insect repellent in areas where mosquitoes are likely to be
found," said Dr. Kabasele.

In 2002, 163 cases of the virus and 11 deaths were reported in Toronto. Last
year, 44 cases were reported and there were no deaths. The risk of becoming
seriously ill with the virus is very low and most people who get the virus have
either no symptoms or mild, flu-like symptoms that disappear after a few days.

Catch basins on Toronto streets will be tested for mosquito larvae and the
results will determine when larviciding begins, likely by mid-June. Larvicides
are placed in the water to control mosquitoes where they breed before becoming
adults. Dates and locations of larviciding will be posted on the City's Web

The WNV program has been developed in consultation with the provincial
government and is being co-ordinated with neighbouring municipalities.

The WNV information line will provide updates on surveillance for the virus
throughout the summer and details of the City's control activities. Call

Backgrounders on West Nile Virus are available at:

Media contact:
Susan Sperling, Toronto Public Health, 416-338-7974



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