The West Nile virus program includes larviciding at catch basins. (BlackburnNews.com file photo)

Health unit begins yearly West Nile watch

As the weather warms up, the Windsor Essex County Health Unit has begun its yearly assault on the West Nile virus.

The health unit kicked off its annual partnership with Windsor-Essex communities Thursday for the annual West Nile Virus Surveillance Program. Together, they will work to control the area’s mosquito population by larviciding catch basins, standing water sites, and lagoons in both the city and county.

Dr. Wajid Ahmed, the health unit’s medical officer of health, said controlling mosquitoes is key to keeping West Nile under control.

“West Nile virus is a potentially serious illness that is transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito. Each year, we have to prepare and assume that mosquitoes are carrying the West Nile virus,” said Ahmed. “By taking simple precautions, residents can reduce the risk of being bitten by mosquitoes.”

The health unit said homeowners and business owners can also get in on the fight by removing standing water on their property. This also involves removing any items that could become a reservoir for standing water, such as old tires, upturned wheelbarrows, animal dishes, and unused flower pots. Water should be changed regularly, especially in bird baths and pet dishes that are kept outdoors. The health unit also suggests cleaning your gutters and making sure fish ponds and swimming pools are working as intended.

Other ways that you can protect yourself from mosquitoes include staying inside at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active, using insect repellent, wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants when outside, preferably with light colours. People are also encouraged to make sure that door and window screens are fitting properly and free of holes.

Complete information on the West Nile virus can be found at the WECHU’s official website.