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June 7, 2004
For immediate release
Mosquito Sampling and Dead Bird Reporting Resumes
Health and Social Services
Last year, sampling of mosquitoes took place across the Island, with particular attention to Culex species, which are most likely to spread the virus when they first arrive in an area. Culex were found in low numbers across the province from June to September last year. Very few were found in Souris, Montague, Brackley Beach, Cavendish or Summerside. Most of the Culex collected were in Queens and Prince counties, with the majority found in Charlottetown, O’Leary and Alberton.
“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 two years, so we must continue to monitor the situation here.”
A mosquito specialist from Winnipeg will again conduct the mosquito sampling. Areas sampled last year will be sampled again, but the number of traps will be increased in Charlottetown, West Prince and rural parts of Queens and Prince Counties. The level of sampling of mosquitoes in Kings County will not change.
“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.”
The Department of the 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 and blue jays, are particularly susceptible to West Nile virus.
Art Smith, Director of Conservation and Management, said Islanders are asked to report dead birds by phoning the department’s toll-free number, 1-866-368-4683. “Even if you find the bird on a weekend or after office hours, you can leave a message on the toll-free line and we will contact you as soon as possible to determine whether the bird should be picked up for testing,” Smith said.
Birds must be intact and reasonably fresh to be properly examined. Raptors – hawks, owls and eagles – are also of interest for conservation reasons, and can be reported by phoning the same number.
Dead birds can also be dropped off directly to the Atlantic Veterinary College for testing. However, people should be careful not to handle the bird with bare hands. Grasp the bird with your hand protected by several layers of leak-proof plastic bags, then turn the bags inside-out over the bird so it ends up inside the bags. If you are not delivering the bird immediately, or if you are holding it to be picked up, it should be kept in a cool place.
To report dead birds, call the Department of Environment and Energy toll-free at 1-866-368-4683. 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.