Health Unit Launches West Nile Surveillance Program

The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit is ready to tackle mosquitoes.

The health unit has launched its 2019 West Nile Surveillance Program.

"We monitor mosquitoes and we treat standing water in and around the City of Windsor and Essex County," says Phil Wong, the Manager of Environmental Health.

Wong says the goal is to control the mosquito population by larviciding catch basins, standing water sites and lagoons in the city and county.

"The main goal here is to see if there's West Nile Virus and educate the public and inform the public when we find it so we can first control the mosquito population and obviously let people know to prevent from getting illness," says Wong.

Wong tells AM800 News there are traps set up in the city and county.

"During our trapping and surveillance we actually identify all the mosquitoes, we test them for both West Nile Virus and Zika Virus and if we find any positive pools we find, we actually notify those homeowners and the people in those affected areas," says Wong.

Wong says the program runs until October.

"Usually late July-August time is when you start getting some cases, some positive pools of West Nile Virus in our samples," says Wong.  "Usually the beginning of the season we don't have as much, it takes some time for the mosquitoes to bite the birds and for the virus to kind of spread in the community within the mosquito population."       

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(AM800 file photo of larviciding program)

The health unit also conducts adult mosquito surveillance plus it investigates human cases in the region.

Wong says there were 13 human cases in 2018, and the virus contributed to the death of one local man last year. 

He says the number of cases was second highest in the province, with Toronto being number one.

According to the health unit, the West Nile Virus is a potentially serious illness that's transmitted through a bite of an infected mosquito.