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West Nile Virus Prevention

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Your School & West Nile Virus Prevention
‘Ditch the Itch, Starve Mosquitoes’

What is the West Nile Virus?

West Nile virus (WNv) is a virus that can cause encephalitis (inflammation of the brain). Most people infected with WNv do not become ill or they may exhibit only mild flu-like symptoms. However, it can be more serious for the elderly and those with weakened immune systems. WNv is a mosquito-borne virus that was first isolated in the West Nile region of Uganda in 1937. The first outbreak due to WNv in North America occurred in New York City late in the summer of 1999.

By 2002, WNv was detected in 44 states in the US and 5 provinces in Canada. In 2009, there were very few human cases in Ontario. There were no human cases or positive mosquito pools in the County of Oxford during 2009.

How is WNv Spread?

WNv is spread to humans by the bite of an infected mosquito. A mosquito becomes infected with WNv by biting a bird with the virus. WNv is usually spread by mosquitoes located in urban areas, (eg., Culex pipiens/restuans species). The virus is not spread through touching or contacting a person with the disease.

How you can help prevent illness from the West Nile virus in Oxford

Remember to:

  • ‘Ditch the Itch, Starve Mosquitoes’ don’t forget to drain the rain once a week; 
  • Reduce mosquito breeding sites; 
  • Protect yourself from mosquito bites

Mosquitoes like to breed in standing water. Empty all containers that water collects in once a week to reduce the number of mosquitoes around your yard. Pick a day of the week that will be “Drain the Rain” day at your campground. Remember to “drain the rain” from your pool cover and plastic outdoor coverings too.

Reduce mosquito breeding sites:

  • Turn over canoes, and plastic wading pools.
  • Tents, tarps and plastic covers on lawn chairs and other outside supplies should be drained weekly
  • Store objects that might collect water indoors.
  • Throw away any unused containers that can collect water
  • Drill holes in the bottom of recycling containers and children’s tire swings.
  • Remove or recycle old tires, plastic containers, and tin cans.
  • Cover rain barrels with a fine mesh screen.

Protect yourself from mosquito bites

  • If possible, stay indoors between dusk and early morning.
  • Make sure that door and window screens fit tightly and do not have holes.
  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and pants when you are outdoors (socks will help too). Light coloured clothing made of a tightly woven material is best.
  • Apply an insect repellent with DEET according to the directions on the bottle. Avoid your eyes and mouth. Do not use insect repellent on children younger than 6 months old. Products that have 5% DEET will give you about 2 hours of protection; those with 10% DEET provide about 3 hours.
  • Keep your grass short. Trim bushes and shrubs – these are areas where mosquitoes rest during the day.



Resources

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More about the West Nile Virus from Oxford County Public Health