Fight the Bite! of mosquitos and ticks this season                                  

York Region begins annual vector-borne disease program activities this spring

NEWMARKET – The Regional Municipality of York will begin the 2014 vector-borne disease program this May to monitor West Nile virus and Lyme disease activity, promote public awareness and provide mosquito control.

“In 2013, colder weather contributed to a significant decline in West Nile virus activity with York Region reporting one confirmed human case and 16 positive mosquito pools,” said Dr. Karim Kurji, York Region’s Medical Officer of Health. “Risk remains low for residents, however self-protection remains an important and effective tool for prevention against vector-borne diseases.”

 

Vector-borne diseases are transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito or tick. West Nile virus is spread through the bite of an infected mosquito. Everyone who is outside during the warmer months is at risk and should take steps to prevent being bitten by mosquitoes.

 

Lyme disease is passed to humans through the bite of an infected blacklegged tick, typically found in rural areas along Lake Erie, Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River. If you find a tick, remove it quickly and safely, and contact York Region Health Connection for tick identification and testing. There were 12 confirmed human cases of Lyme disease in York Region in 2013, all determined to be travel-related.

York Region’s Fight the Bite! education campaign encourages prevention and protection as the best way to guard against vector-borne diseases:

  • ·         Cover up when you go outdoors with light-coloured long sleeved shirts and pants
  • ·         Use an insect repellent containing DEET
  • ·         Check yourself and your children for ticks
  • ·         Remove attached ticks as quickly as possible
  • ·         Clean up standing water around your home where mosquitoes like to breed

York Region has budgeted $543,000 for the 2014 vector-borne disease program with 75 per cent of funding anticipated from the Province of Ontario. Larviciding, the primary method for reducing mosquitos through treatment of roadside catch basins, will be completed four times during mosquito season.

For more information on this or any other public-health related topic, please contact York Region Health Connection at 1-800-361-5653 or TTY 1-866-252-9933. More information is also available on www.york.ca/westnile, www.york.ca/lymedisease or through the Fight the Bite! video on YouTube.