CK Mosquitoes Test Positive For West Nile Virus

Photo courtesy of © Can Stock Photo Inc. / dabjola

The Chatham-Kent Public Health Unit says mosquitoes collected from three traps last week in Dresden, Blenheim, and northwest Chatham have tested positive for West Nile virus.

Public Health Inspector Michael Hatten says traps are set up every year in ten locations across the municipality.

“We start testing in June and it goes until September. It’s just to monitor for the West Nile virus,” says Hatten. “This is the first time this year that we’ve had the traps test positive in Chatham-Kent and we happen to have three of them from last week in Dresden, Blenheim, and the northwest Chatham areas.”

Hatten says it is fairly normal for traps to test positive in Chatham-Kent.

“We know West Nile virus is here. We know that it’s going to be here every year,” he explains. “It’s just a matter of monitoring to see if it’s showing up. Just because it didn’t show up, for instance, in Tilbury this year, doesn’t mean that it’s not in Tilbury. It’s just more of an indicator so we can remind people to take their precautions.”

Hatten says workers will be putting larvicide into catch basins this year to prevent the mosquitoes from breeding.

According to the health unit, West Nile virus is mainly transmitted to people through the bite of an infected mosquito. Most people infected with the virus have no symptoms at all, or they have flu-like symptoms, such as fever, headache, body aches, and fatigue. Those with more severe illness may experience a stiff neck, nausea, difficulty swallowing, vomiting, and lack of coordination, or paralysis.

Anyone with the sudden onset of these severe symptoms should seek immediate medical attention. Although the chances of getting West Nile virus from an infected mosquito are low, the risk of severe illness increases with age and for people with compromised immune systems.

The heat unit suggests residents follow the protective measures listed below:

  • Wearing protective, light-coloured clothing, including long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and socks
  • Using insect repellent containing DEET and follow the label directions
  • Staying indoors when mosquitoes are most active (dusk to dawn)
  • Ensuring that all door and window screens are tight and free of any holes
  • Eliminate mosquito breeding sites by removing any standing water from your property.

For more information on West Nile virus, visit the Public Health Agency of Canada’s website or call the Chatham-Kent Public Health Unit at 519-355-1071.