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May 13, 2003
For immediate release

Minister Tables Strategy on West Nile Virus

Health and Social Services

Health and Social Services Minister Jamie Ballem today tabled the Department's Strategy on West Nile Virus.

The strategy includes surveillance for West Nile virus in the three Maritime provinces, dead bird surveillance, human surveillance, human testing, a mosquito survey, mosquito control, and public education.

"Together with the Department of Fisheries, Aquaculture and Environment, we have hired a mosquito technician to conduct a survey of seven sites across PEI this summer," said Minister Ballem. "She will build upon the valuable study that was conducted in 2000 by Dr. Donna Giberson at the University of Prince Edward Island."

The mosquito survey will include identification of the species and relative numbers of mosquitoes found and will provide information regarding the patterns of mosquito populations across the province.

"Of the 34 species of mosquito on PEI, which Dr. Giberson documented, only three are of the Culex species, the usual carriers of West Nile Virus," noted Minister Ballem. "We have a lot of mosquitoes on PEI, but it is important residents and visitors recognize that the nuisance mosquitoes the ones that usually bite humans are not a concern for transmitting West Nile virus.

"However," said the Minister, "there are still steps Islanders can take to minimize the risk."

The Prince Edward Island Department of Health and Social Services, in conjunction with Health Departments in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, is encouraging residents to set aside this Saturday to pay special attention to cleaning up property surrounding homes, cottages and businesses.

Culex mosquitoes the mosquitoes that are a concern for transmitting West Nile virus breed in small containers that hold water, such as old cans and jars, birdbaths, rainbarrels, tires, road ruts and puddles in driveways.

"Although we don't have a large number of Culex mosquitoes on PEI, eliminating sources of standing water can help control the mosquito population and help protect against West Nile virus," said Minister Ballem.

The Department of Health and Social Services has developed a series of information sheets and a brochure to help Islanders and visitors learn more about West Nile virus and the steps that can be taken to minimize risk.

The brochure and information sheets are available at Access PEI sites, toll free at 1-800-241-6970, and on the department's West Nile Virus Web site

Media Contact: Connie McNeill
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