West Nile Virus found in Saint John

The province's Chief Medical Officer of Health is advising residents to protect themselves from mosquito bites.

The advice comes following the discovery of West Nile virus in three birds in the Saint John area.

The tests results were confirmed by the National Microbiology Laboratory.

Dr. Jennifer Russell says the risk of infection is low, but the prevention of mosquito bites remains important.

Some ways to protect yourself from mosquito bites are:

• Make sure door and window screens fit tightly and are free of holes to prevent mosquitoes entering homes.
• Minimize time spent outdoors at dusk and dawn, when mosquitoes are most active.
• Wear light-coloured clothing, long-sleeved tops, long pants, and socks when outdoors or consider special screen mesh clothing (screen jackets, suits and head nets) available at most hardware and department stores, as well as at camping and outdoor supply shops.
• Use an insect repellent containing DEET or other Health Canada approved repellents.

To reduce the risk of exposure to mosquitoes, take the following steps to eliminate mosquito breeding sites in your yard:

• Regularly empty standing water from articles in the yard like pool covers, flower pots, children's toys, pet bowls, etc.
• Clean rain gutters regularly so water does not collect.
• Turn over plastic wading pools and wheelbarrows when not in use.
• Change water in birdbaths twice weekly.
• Aerate ornamental ponds or stock with fish that eat mosquito larvae.
• Remove debris that can hold rainwater, like old tires.
• Clean and chlorinate swimming pools that are not being used and keep the pool water circulating.

West Nile virus was last found in New Brunswick in 2003.