The Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health reports that preliminary analysis from adult mosquito traps for the week of June 16 has identified very low numbers of Culex tarsalis mosquitoes in a few communities in southern Manitoba.
Most of the mosquitoes in the traps at this time in Manitoba are nuisance mosquitoes, which do not carry West Nile virus.
Culex tarsalis mosquitoes are the mosquitoes most likely to carry the West Nile virus. At this time of year, the risk of being bitten by a mosquito carrying West Nile virus is considered low. With the warm weather, the numbers of Culex tarsalis mosquitoes are expected to increase over the coming weeks.
To date, no human cases of West Nile virus have been identified in Manitoba in 2008.
Manitobans can reduce mosquitoes around their home by reducing standing water. To prevent the development of Culex tarsalis mosquitoes, homeowners can:
· clean eavestroughs and regularly empty bird baths and other items that might collect water,
· ensure rain barrels are covered with mosquito screening or are tightly sealed around the downspout,
· clear yards of old tires or other items that collect water, and
· improve landscaping to prevent standing water around the home.
Manitobans can reduce the risk of mosquito bites by:
· reducing the amount of time spent outdoors during peak mosquito hours between dusk and dawn;
· using appropriate mosquito repellent;
· wearing light-coloured, loose-fitting clothing; and
· maintaining door and window screens so they fit tightly and are free of holes.
Weekly average trap counts of Culex tarsalis by regional health authority are available on the province’s West Nile virus website at www.gov.mb.ca/health/wnv.
In February 2008, a public attitude survey on West Nile virus was conducted. The survey, released today, was undertaken to better understand what Manitobans know about the risk of West Nile virus and the precautions they use to reduce those risks.
The survey showed that 98 per cent of Manitobans are aware of West Nile virus. In addition,
58 per cent of Manitobans reported wearing mosquito repellent half the time or more when outdoors and 68 per cent of Manitobans said they wear protective clothing half the time or more when outdoors between dusk and dawn.
Elimination of standing water was conducted by 84 per cent of Manitobans half the time or more and 39 per cent of Manitobans indicated they avoided being outside between dusk and dawn half the time or more.
The information in the survey, analysis of the 2007 season, other scientific evidence and feedback from stakeholders is being used to enhance and expand public information materials to provide Manitobans with information about the virus and about the precautions they can take to protect themselves.
Information on the risk of West Nile virus will continue to be provided to the public throughout the summer. Manitobans can also check the West Nile virus website regularly for up-to-date data and information.
For more information about West Nile virus, contact Health Links–Info Santé at 788-8200 or 1‑888‑315-9257 (toll-free) or visit the Manitoba Health website at www.gov.mb.ca/health/wnv.