Thursday July 12, 2012


Health News

'Fight the Bite'

Safeguard against West Nile Virus

Released by Fraser Health Authority/Voice file photo


Water crept close to this bench at Corbould Park during the freshet. Mosquito eggs which have lain dormant during low water years, are hatched causing even more of a problem.


s the temperatures start to rise, creating ideal conditions for mosquitoes, Fraser Health is reminding residents to fight the bite.


West Nile Virus (WNV), a disease carried by mosquitoes, can infect people, as well as other mammals and birds. Most people who become infected do not have any symptoms, but about 20 per cent will experience flu-like symptoms such as fever, headache, body aches, nausea, rash, swollen glands and sensitivity to light. About one in 150 infected people experience serious illness.

"The best way to reduce mosquito bites and the risk of WNV is to help limit the number of mosquitoes in the first place," said Glen Embree, Manager, Environmental Health Services. "You can prevent mosquito breeding by getting rid of any standing water on your property. For example, get rid of water in flower pots, in garbage can lids, in empty bottles on your sundecks, and in children's toys and patio furniture that have been sitting outside all year."

Fraser Health, in partnership with the BC Centre for Disease Control, has a surveillance program to act as an early detection and public notification system for WNV. This includes public education, testing of mosquitoes caught in traps set up throughout the region (Delta to Hope), and monitoring dead crow reports

As crows are particularly susceptible and often die as a result of WNV illness, Fraser Health tracks public reports of dead crows, and collects some for testing. This is one of the most reliable methods of early detection. Disease-positive crows often precede the illness in humans by two to six weeks, allowing health officials to implement pest management plans to minimize human health risk.

"Residents play a big role in West Nile surveillance," said Embree. "Without public participation, early detection of WNV is more difficult. We urge residents in the Fraser Health region to be alert to dead crows and report them by calling Fraser Health's West Nile Virus Reporting Line."

To report a dead crow or for concerns with mosquito breeding habitat on private lands in the Fraser Health area, please call and leave a message on the Fraser Health West Nile Virus Toll-Free Reporting Line at 1-888-WNV-LINE (1-888-968-5463).

In 2011 there were no cases of endemic (locally acquired) cases of WNV anywhere in BC, including the Fraser Health Region, and there have been no mosquito pools or birds that have tested positive for WNV this season. Still, health officials are asking people to continue to do what they can to protect themselves.

The best way to reduce the risk of WNV infection is to avoid mosquito bites by remembering the four "D"s:

Drain: Keep your property free of standing and stagnant water as this can be a breeding ground for mosquitoes. This means getting rid of water in flower pots, garbage can lids, old tires and other items that may collect rain water, changing water in bird baths twice a week, unclogging gutters and emptying wading pools when not in use.

Dusk and dawn: Mosquitoes are most active at dusk and dawn. Cover up and use insect repellent if you are outside.

Dress appropriately: Wear loose fitting long-sleeved shirts, long pants, shoes, socks and a hat when outdoors. Light coloured clothing is best.

Defend: Use insect repellent on exposed skin or on top of clothing. Repellent containing DEET is most effective - up to 30% DEET for adults and 10% for children (not recommended for infants). Remember, the concentration of DEET only affects the duration of its effectiveness, not the quality of its effectiveness. Be sure to reapply when in contact with mosquitoes for longer periods of time.

Fraser Health provides a wide range of integrated health services to the largest and fastest growing population in B.C. The health authority is committed to improving the health of the population and the quality of life of more than 1.6 million people living in communities from Burnaby to White Rock to Hope.

More information visit the BC Centre for Disease Control to learn about West Nile Virus here or at the HealthLink BC website here.


Copyright (c) 2012 The Valley Voice