For Immediate Release
May 16, 2001

Dr. David McKeown
Medical Officer of Health
Peel Health
Region of Peel
905-791-7800, Ext. 2215

Peel Kicks Off Put Mosquitoes Out of Touch Campaign

(Brampton) - The Region of Peel today launched a campaign encouraging Peel residents to reduce their exposure to mosquito bites.

With the slogan, Put Mosquitoes Out of Touch, Peel Health is offering tips to residents on ways to reduce standing water- breeding areas for mosquitoes-around their homes. As well, Peel Health is encouraging the use of mosquito repellent and advises wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants when mosquitoes are most active.

Impetus for the campaign is the chance of West Nile virus entering Ontario this year. Borne by birds, the virus is transmitted to humans through mosquitoes that bite infected birds and then people. To most people, the virus is harmless. However, in the elderly and those with weakened immune systems, the virus can cause flu-like symptoms and, in a small number of cases, lead to viral encephalitis (inflammation of the brain).

"There is no evidence, yet, of West Nile virus being present in Ontario," says Dr. David McKeown, Medical Officer of Health for the Region of Peel. "Even in areas where the virus is circulating, the chance of becoming ill is very small. It still makes sense, though, to take some simple steps to reduce mosquito breeding areas and avoid being bitten."

Peel Health and other health units across Ontario will be monitoring for the presence of the virus in birds. The campaign asks Peel residents to report dead birds to Health Line Peel at 905-799-7700. Of particular concern are dead crows, and blue jays, the birds most susceptible to the virus. Selected dead birds will be tested for the virus.

First documented in North America in New York City in 1999, West Nile virus is a bird-borne infection that, by last year, had spread to almost all of New York State and parts of neighbouring states. Although it is impossible to predict when the virus will show up in Ontario, its eventual presence is highly likely, given that the species that can carry the virus are common to Ontario as well as to New York State.

Further information on West Nile virus, tips on reducing mosquito breeding areas, advice on personal protection from mosquito bites and details on how to report dead birds can be found at or by calling Health Line Peel at 905-799-7700.

Communication Services, 10 Peel Centre Dr., Brampton, ON L6T 4B9
Phone: 905-791-7800, ext. 4499, Fax: 905-791-0595 , e-mail

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