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Petrolia and Camlachie mosquito pools test positive for West Nile virus

By Melissa Schilz, Postmedia Network

Mosquito pools in Camlachie and Petrolia tested positive for West Nile Virus. Lambton Public Health is advising residents to avoid getting bit. File photo.

Mosquito pools in Camlachie and Petrolia tested positive for West Nile Virus. Lambton Public Health is advising residents to avoid getting bit. File photo.

This week week, Lambton Public Health's West Nile virus surveillance program confirmed that mosquitoes collected from areas in Petrolia and Camlachie have tested positive for the virus.

In a press release on September 20, it was stated that these are the first positive mosquito pools with the virus in Lambton County this year. In Lambton County this season they have found one dead crow that tested positive in Sarnia as well as two positive mosquito pools in Petrolia and Camlachie.

Lori Lucas, Supervisor of Health Protection, said that over the course of the summer, 12 mosquito traps are set up once a week over 12 weeks. These are placed in six fixed sites across the county, and those caught are then sent to a lab for testing.

“They do the testing to identify the types of mosquitoes they find, and then they do further testing for West Nile virus,” Lucas said. “So these are the first ones so far, in week 11, that they were found.”

Lucas said that the last time a positive pool was found in Lambton County was just last year.

While there have been no confirmed human cases in the Lambton County area this year, throughout Ontario there have been 14 confirmed human cases at the time of the press release. According to Public Health Ontario data, there have been 30 cases reported from Toronto, Niagara Region, Durham Region, Halton Region, York Region and Windsor Essex County.

Symptoms of West Nile virus are similar to the flu, including fever, headache muscle aches and a rash on the skin. Many who are infected do not become ill – less than one per cent of those infected become seriously ill.

Across Ontario, 201 mosquito pools have been reported as testing positive for West Nile virus so far this year. According to Public Health Ontario data, the number of positive pools has doubled from last year. In 2015, 94 pools tested positive, while in 2014 there were just 56.

Lucas said that Lambton Public Health is doing their part in controlling the mosquito populations, but with the region experiencing warm temperatures still, residents are advised to take precautions to avoid contracting West Nile virus.

Some of those precautions include wearing repellants, protective clothing and avoiding going outside during hours where activity is high. Lucas also said it's important to try to reduce breeding areas around the home.

“Just because you don't necessarily find it in the mosquitoes that you trap doesn't mean it's not there,” Lucas said. “Reducing standing water on your own properties, turning over toys and tires and pails and wheelbarrows and things like that – mosquitoes don't need much water... just a little bit of stagnant water to breed in.”
 

Mschilz@postmedia.com