Mosquitoes in Peterborough test positive for West Nile virus, health unit reports

Peterborough Public Health says the West Nile virus has been confirmed in mosquito traps within the city's limits. File

Mosquitoes recently trapped in the city of Peterborough have tested positive for West Nile virus, the region’s health unit reports Monday.

According to Peterborough Public Health, mosquitoes trapped from July 20 to 23 tested positive for the virus — the first positive pool found in the city this year. The health units sets traps weekly in the city and Peterborough County during the summer months and early fall.

Read more: Can mosquitoes spread COVID-19? Dr. Hinshaw weighs in

Public Health Ontario reports that as of July 18, there were no West Nile virus-positive mosquito pools identified in the province and there have been no human cases.

“Now that we’ve identified mosquitoes carrying West Nile virus in our area, it’s especially important that residents take care to prevent mosquito bites,” stated Wanda Tonus, public health inspector. “This is a good reminder for residents to get rid of any standing water in their yards and to take precautions to avoid mosquito bites.”

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Tonus noted that the majority of West Nile virus cases do not show symptoms. About 20 per cent of infected people may have a mild flu-like illness with fever, headache and body aches, occasionally with a skin rash and swollen lymph nodes or other non-specific symptoms that last several days.

Other symptoms may include nausea, vomiting or eye pain. The health unit reports less than one percent of infected people will develop neuro-invasive disease, with older age groups and males disproportionately affected, the health unit reports.

Although the risk of becoming infected is low, prevention of mosquito bites is the best protection. The health unit recommends some of the following precautions to reduce bite risk:

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  • Cover up when going outside between the hours of dusk and dawn — wear a long-sleeved shirt or jacket and long pants (tucked into your socks), light-coloured clothing special clothing that is designed to protect you from bugs.
  • Use insect repellant containing DEET.
  • Clean up standing water around your home.
  • Keep bushes and shrubs clear of overgrowth and debris.
  • Turn your compost pile often.

The health unit says the City of Peterborough has completed one round of larviciding catch basins within its jurisdiction and a second round is underway.

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