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Culex tarsalis mosquites found

It's time to start taking precautions to reduce infection from West Nile Virus, says Dr. Shauna Hudson, Sun Country Health Region's Medical Health Officer.
The Culex tarsalis mosquitoes that can transmit West Nile virus were caught in several of the mosquito traps in Sun Country Health Region during the week of June 29-July3.
The SCHR mosquito surveillance program began the first week in June. Mosquito surveillance traps have been set up in five locations in SCHR, as part of the provincial mosquito surveillance program.
In the fourth week of trapping, the first generation of Culex tarsalis mosquitoes was identified in small numbers in several of the traps.
This is much later than in 2007, when high numbers of first generation adults were found in several southern communities during the first week of June. No West Nile virus positive mosquitos have been found in the SCHR traps to July 9 this year.
Dr. Hudson says it's still too early to predict the risk of becoming infected with West Nile virus this summer but at this time it appears the season will be shorter.
With the emergence of Culex tarsalis, the risk will begin to increase in the coming weeks with the recent warm weather and rains.
All people in the Region need to take personal precautions to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes in the places where they live, work and play - even during low risk periods.
"The most important thing is to avoid all mosquito bites," says Dr. Hudson, "but particularly at dusk and dawn when the mosquitoes that carry West Nile virus are most active."
"These mosquitoes often go unnoticed because they bite around the ankles and their bite isn't as annoying as many of the nuisance mosquitoes that are present right now," she says.
Dr Hudson recommends that members of the public follow the "FIVE Ds:"
• Wear a good insect repellant with DEET. Apply according to directions.
• DRAIN standing water. Mosquitoes require water to complete their life cycle. Eliminate or reduce all sources of standing water where mosquitoes can lay eggs, like wading pools, wheelbarrows, containers, rain downspouts and gutters, pet dishes and birdbaths, etc. Reduce places in the yard where adult mosquitoes can thrive - like tall grasses and weeds.
• Avoid going out during DUSK and DAWN. The mosquitoes that carry West Nile virus are most active at dawn and dusk and also in the early evening. They are especially active for two hours after sunset.
• DRESS appropriately. Wear long sleeves and long pants (wear light-weight clothing to minimize the potential for heat-induced illnesses). Mosquitoes may be more attracted to individuals wearing perfumes and colognes.
• Mosquito-proof your home. Make sure that DOORS and windows have tight fitting screens. Repair or replace screens that have tears or holes.

For more information on West Nile Virus, go to Sun Country Health Website at www.suncountry.sk.ca or the Saskatchewan Government website at www.health.gov.sk.ca/west-nile-virus.

Media: Please contact Dr. Shauna Hudson, Sun Country Health Region Medical Health Officer at (306) 842-8659.
Date: 2009-07-09

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