Ottawa’s first positive test for West Nile virus in a bird this year isn’t a reason for concern, but should serve as a reminder for residents to remain vigilant, say city health officials.
A crow found in the Walkley Road and Airport Parkway area last week tested positive for West Nile virus, said Jean-Guy Albert, a program manager for Ottawa Public Health. Testing to confirm the virus was done at the Canadian Co-operative Wildlife Health Centre at the University of Guelph earlier this week and the results announced yesterday.
Albert said the discovery of the virus in the area means residents should take simple precautions against it.
“Use mosquito repellent, especially in places where there are a lot of mosquitoes. We’re asking people to do inventory of their yard and to eliminates all areas where there is standing water, because that’s a breeding ground for mosquitoes.”
As the first instance of West Nile reported this year, this is fairly late in the year, said Albert. “Last year, we found our first positive crow in early August.”
The reason for the late West Nile season may be linked to the weather, which hasn’t been conducive for mosquito growth. Mosquitoes like heavy rains followed by long periods of heat to thrive and 2007 has not really fit the bill.
Ottawa Public Health is asking people to contact them when they see a dead raven, crow or blue jay, said Albert. To date in 2007, Ottawa Public Health has picked up 82 birds and submitted 35 for testing.
contracting the disease
- West Nile virus is contracted through an infected mosquito. Although most people exposed to the virus will have no symptoms at all, others experience flu-like symptoms. Some people can develop complications.