For Immediate Release
October 18, 2001

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

Mosquitoes in Peel First in Canada to Test Positive for West Nile Virus

(Brampton) - Health Canada has confirmed that mosquitoes in the Region of Peel have tested positive for the West Nile virus. This is the first known case of mosquitoes with West Nile virus in Canada. There have been no cases of West Nile virus in humans in Canada.

Peel Public Health has been working with Health Canada and the Provincial Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care to monitor mosquito activity in the Region since mid-August. The positive mosquitoes were collected in traps in Mississauga during the last week of August. The first birds confirmed positive for West Nile virus in Peel Region were discovered in Mississauga during this same time period.

"This finding is not a surprise, as we have already had a number of birds test positive for West Nile virus," said Dr. David McKeown, Medical Officer of Health for the Region of Peel. "There has been no virus found in the mosquitoes collected in September, and the risk of human infection remains very low."

The mosquitoes were tested in Health Canada's National Microbiology Laboratory, located at the Canadian Science Centre for Human and Animal Health, in Winnipeg. All mosquitoes sent to Winnipeg undergo preliminary testing for West Nile virus. If the virus is detected, the mosquitoes are subjected to further testing to confirm the results.

"Both mosquito activity and the number of dead bird sightings have declined dramatically since early September," continued Dr. McKeown. "We will continue to monitor mosquito activity and dead bird sightings throughout October to help protect the safety of our Region's residents."

Peel Health will work with Health Canada and the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care to analyze West Nile virus surveillance data for this season. This analysis will be used to help guide local West Nile virus prevention strategies for 2002.

More information on West Nile virus can be found at or by calling Health Line Peel, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., at 905-799-7700.

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