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West Nile Virus identified here

  The Northwestern Health Unit would like to advise the public that West Nile virus-positive mosquitoes have been identified from a trap in the Fort Frances area.    This is the first documented case of WNV-positive mosquitoes in a municipality within the Kenora and Rainy River districts in 2007.    There has been one laboratory confirmed case of West Nile virus infection in humans in the northwest, occurring last year, but the risk of becoming seriously ill remains extremely low.     The Northwestern Health Unit also would like to advise the public of the termination of its dead bird surveillance program for West Nile virus for the rest of the 2007 season.    Sufficient numbers of West Nile virus-positive birds already have been identified within the Kenora and Rainy River districts.    However, the health unit would like to encourage the public to report any circumstance where three or more dead wild birds of any species or size are found together, or if a single large bird (i.e., hawks, eagles, owls, herons, etc.) is found.    Although not all birds reported will be collected, some will be collected for purposes of West Nile virus surveillance and/or to detect the highly-pathogenic strain of avian Influenza should it arrive in Ontario.    All residents of the northwest, as well as visitors to the area, are reminded that the best protection against infection is to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes, and by applying personal protective measures such as:    •Drain any areas of standing or stagnant water on your property. Remove old tires, turn over pails, toys, wheelbarrows, etc., and change water in birdbaths on a frequent basis.    •Take extra precautions at dusk and dawn when mosquito activity is higher. Wearing light-coloured clothing, long pants, a long-sleeved shirt, and hat will reduce exposure to mosquitoes.    •Ensure that eaves troughs drain properly, and that screens on doors and windows are in good state of repair.    •Use a mosquito repellent containing DEET, following the manufacturer’s instructions.    These measures are particularly important during these times of warm summer weather following the appearance of West Nile-positive mosquitoes, and has been shown to be the most effective methods of protection against West Nile virus infection.    It is recommended these measures be followed until the first hard frost of the year.

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