Fighting the Bite

Written by admin, June 13, 2013

June 13, 2013 –  Peterborough Public Health Advises Residents to Protect Themselves This Summer

The Peterborough Public Health is encouraging local residents to take precautions against West Nile virus (WNv), a potentially dangerous disease transmitted by mosquitoes from infected birds.

The Public Health has begun its 2013 Vector-borne Disease Prevention Program which includes mosquito surveillance of storm water management ponds and trapping live mosquitoes to test them for WNv. The Public Health also responds to complaints from local residents about standing water and enforces the City of Peterborough stagnant water by-law which states that standing water may not be present for more than four days on any property to limit the possibility of mosquito breeding.

West Nile virus is a disease that anyone can get from the bite of an infected mosquito. Mosquitoes can transmit the virus after becoming infected by feeding on the blood of wild birds, which are the main carriers of the disease.

West Nile virus is not contagious. It is only transmitted through blood and cannot be transmitted by human-to-human contact. Humans can only acquire West Nile virus from the bite of an infected mosquito.

In 2012, Peterborough had seven mosquito pools test positive for West Nile out of a total of 464 positive mosquito pools in Ontario with 605 in Canada. There were a total of 433 clinical cases and 17 asymptomatic infections reported to the Public Health Agency of Canada. Of the 433 clinical cases, 139 (32%) were classified as Neurological Syndrome, 244 (56%) as Non-Neurological Syndrome, and 50 (12%) as unclassified. There were six deaths across Canada associated with WNv. In the United States, there were 22,778 mosquito pools identified with West Nile virus and 5,674 human cases with 286 deaths.

For the best protection against West Nile virus, Public Health recommends the following:

  • Wear light coloured clothing (cover bare skin whenever possible)
  • Use insect repellents; those that contain DEET are most effective
  • Stay indoors at peak times (dawn and dusk)
  • Ensure there are no holes in window/door screens

Eliminating standing water is also an important approach to reducing mosquito breeding, especially in urban settings.  This includes water found in common areas such as birdbaths, old tires, rain barrels, neglected swimming pools, gutters/eaves troughs, clogged drainage ditches, plant saucers, children’s toys, and boats/canoes. This will prevent mosquitoes that may carry WNv from breeding around your home.

Residents collecting or handling dead birds should avoid contact with blood, body fluids, or punctures by using protection such as a small shovel, large tongs, or disposable gloves. Place dead birds in a leak-proof plastic bag and once finished remember to wash hands with soap and warm water.

The Public Health reminds the public that it no longer collects dead birds to be tested for West Nile. For more information on bird collection and submission please contact the Canadian Cooperative Wildlife Health Centre (CCWHC) at 1-866-673-4781 or visit



For further information, please contact:
Dylan Mahoney or Laura MacMillian-Jones
Vector-borne Disease Prevention Program
Peterborough Public Health
(705) 743-1000, ext. 340 or 339