July 12, 2005
For immediate release
Mosquito Sampling and Dead Bird Reporting Resumes
Health and Social Services
Over the past two years, sampling of mosquitoes has taken place across the Island, with particular attention to Culex species, which are most likely to spread the virus when it first arrives in an area. The majority of Culex were found in the Charlottetown and West Prince areas where most of the sampling will be done this year.
“There have been no humans, birds or mosquitoes diagnosed with West Nile virus in Prince Edward Island,” Dr. Sweet said, “But a few birds have tested positive in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick over the past few years, so we must continue to monitor the situation here.”
“There are steps that we can all take to reduce the breeding areas for Culex mosquitoes,” Dr. Sweet noted. “Culex mosquitoes breed in gutters, old tires, birdbaths – just about anywhere there’s even a little standing water for them to lay their eggs in. That’s why property cleanup is an effective way to reduce the mosquito population.”
It is also important to apply insect repellant as a means of preventing mosquito bites.
The Department of Environment and Energy has resumed dead bird testing, which is another way to determine if West Nile virus has reached Prince Edward Island. In other provinces, dead birds have tested positive for West Nile virus prior to any reported human cases. Corvids, namely crows, ravens, blue jays and gray jays, are particularly susceptible to West Nile virus so the testing focuses on those birds.
Kate MacQuarrie, Director of Forests, Fish and Wildlife, said Islanders can report dead crows, ravens and blue jays by phoning the department’s toll-free number, 1-866-368-4683 and leaving a message. A staff member will return the call as soon as possible to determine whether the bird should be picked up for testing. Ms. MacQuarrie said birds must be intact and reasonably fresh to be properly examined so not all dead birds will be picked up.
For more information on West Nile virus, visit the Health Information Resource Centre at www.gov.pe.ca/hirc, or call the centre toll free at 1-800-241-6970.