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August 28, 2003
For immediate release

Mosquito Surveillance Program Conducted

Health and Social Services

Chief Health Officer Dr. Lamont Sweet today released information resulting from the mosquito surveillance program conducted across the province this summer.

"Although we may have seen a lot of nuisance mosquitoes in Prince Edward Island this summer," said Dr. Sweet, "our surveillance across the province has shown low numbers of the Culex species, the mosquito most likely to spread West Nile Virus."

In May, Health and Social Services Minister Jamie Ballem released the province's Strategy on West Nile virus, which included hiring a mosquito technician to conduct a survey of seven sites across PEI this summer, in conjunction with the Department of Fisheries, Aquaculture and Environment. Mosquito technician, Tamara Ball began working on mosquito surveillance on May 1. She has been assisted by UPEI biology honours student, Maggie McConnell.

The mosquito survey found that Culex mosquitoes were found in larger numbers in containers, dump sites, old tires and in bags of garbage left in sheltered areas. "Culex mosquitoes were rarely found in Cavendish, Brackley and Souris," said Dr. Sweet. "While still low, a few more Culex mosquitoes were found in Summerside, Montague, Alberton and O'Leary. Again, while low in numbers, the highest number of Culex mosquitoes were found in the Charlottetown area."

"There have been more than 200 dead birds tested in PEI this year and none has been positive for West Nile virus," Dr. Sweet said. "It is unlikely that we will have an outbreak of West Nile virus in humans this year in PEI, but I still urge Islanders to take precautions. Personal protection and reducing sources of multiplication of mosquitoes remain important."

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 about steps that can be taken to minimize risk. The brochure and information sheets are available in English and French at Access PEI sites, the Health Information Resource Centre (HIRC) 368-6526 or toll free at 1-800-241-6970, and on the department's West Nile Virus Web site www.gov.pe.ca/westnile

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Media Contact: Connie McNeill
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