News Local

Declaring war on West Nile

By Fallon Hewitt, Sarnia Observer

Josh Pommer, a larvicide technician for the St. Clair Region Conservation Authority, treats a catch basin in Point Edward with larvicide on June 26. This catch basin is one of the 16,500 that will be treated this summer in partnership with Lambton Public Health. Fallon Hewitt/Postmedia Network

Josh Pommer, a larvicide technician for the St. Clair Region Conservation Authority, treats a catch basin in Point Edward with larvicide on June 26. This catch basin is one of the 16,500 that will be treated this summer in partnership with Lambton Public Health. Fallon Hewitt/Postmedia Network

If you see someone dump what looks like a measuring spoon into a nearby catch basin and then spray the grate with a paint gun, don’t be worried – it’s all part of Lambton Public Health’s strategy of disrupting mosquito breeding in the region.

Known as catch basin larviciding, the process is designed to control mosquito larvae and reduce the risk of West Nile virus in Lambton County.

The program began June 25.

The health unit has contracted the St. Clair Region Conservation Authority to survey and control mosquito populations over the summer months, with larviciding just one part of the operation.

Jeff Sharp, a conservation service specialist with the conservation authority, said the agency has been contracted to treat 16,500 catch basins throughout the county.

The health unit says the larvicide is applied under a Ministry of Environment and Climate Change larviciding permit. Methoprene or altosid in pellet formulation will be placed in the catch basins. Vehicles used for larviciding will be equipped with a flashing yellow roof light, with West Nile virus signage and with a caution sign warning residents and motorists that they will be making frequent stops.

Alongside the treatments, the health unit will also be testing mosquito traps, said Lori Lucas, supervisor of health protection for the County of Lambton.

“We have 12 traps that are distributed across the county,” said Lucas. “We put them up overnight and catch mosquitos, and then send those back the next day to a lab for analysis and see what kind of mosquitos we are seeing.

In 2017, the health unit found two mosquito pools that tested positive for West Nile.

“We’re trying to keep a pulse on what the mosquito population is out there,” she said.

Last year health unit saw one human case of West Nile.

None have been reported so far this year.

Lucas noted that homeowners can also do their part by checking their properties for stagnant water. Water can collect in old tires, children's toys and bird baths. Anything that can collect water should be emptied periodically, as the sitting water is where mosquitoes can lay eggs, she noted.

Lucas also recommended that residents wear layers of clothing when going out at night, that they wear insect repellent that contains DEET, and that they avoid areas where mosquitoes are well established.

For more information, contact Lambton Public Health or visit their website at https://lambtonhealth.on.ca.