Health Unit Kicks Off West Nile Virus Surveillance

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West Nile Virus

With the warm sunshine and hot temperatures of summer only weeks away, the Middlesex-London Health Unit officially launched its annual West Nile Virus Surveillance program in Strathroy.

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In order to get a head start on this year's program, the Health Unit has already begun monitoring some 200 standing water sites located on public property in London and Middlesex County for mosquito larvae. The Health Unit is calling on residents to assist in the effort to not only detect, but also to prevent West Nile Virus.

"The role residents play is key to the success of our West Nile Virus program," says Jim Reffle, Director of Environmental Health and Chronic Disease Prevention Services, with the Middlesex-London Health Unit. "In the past they've assisted us by removing standing water on their properties and by telling us where they find dead crows and blue jays. For 2007, we'll be asking them to look for other species of dead birds as well."

This year the Health Unit is expanding its dead bird collection effort. In addition to crows and blue jays, the agency will also participate in the collecting of dead wild birds as part of a province-wide avian influenza surveillance program. Birds that are greater than, or equal to 40 centimeters (16 inches) in size, or those found in clusters of three or more dead birds may be eligible for collection.

Crows and blue jays are particularly sensitive to West Nile Virus and are tested to determine the extent of viral activity in an area.

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