The Grey Bruce Health Unit has received confirmation that a Cooper’s hawk, found dead in Lion’s Head and submitted for testing in late July, has tested positive for West Nile Virus (WNV).
This is the first bird to test positive for WNV in Grey-Bruce this year. As of Aug. 6, no human cases of the mosquito-borne viral disease have been reported in Ontario in 2022.
WNV circulates between birds and some species of mosquitoes, including Culex pipiens and Culex restuans. The virus can be transmitted to humans by a mosquito bite if the mosquito has first bitten an infected bird.
The risk of contracting WNV from an infected mosquito is usually highest in late summer; towards the end of the mosquito season. The best way to prevent WNV is to protect yourself from mosquito bites by:
· Using insect repellant containing DEET or Icaridin;
· Wearing light-coloured long pants and long sleeves, socks and a hat when outdoors;
· Reducing mosquito habitats near the home by eliminating standing water in flowerpots, eavestroughs, etc.; and
· Ensuring door and window screens fit securely and are free of holes.
Most people infected with WNV do not experience any symptoms. Others see symptoms two to 15 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito. Symptoms are usually mild and can include a fever and headache; however, serious symptoms can occur, including stiff neck and high fever as well as confusion, tremors and sudden sensitivity to light.
Public Health sets mosquito traps monthly in each Grey-Bruce municipality from May to September as part of its vector surveillance program. The traps are then shipped to a laboratory for species identification and viral testing on appropriate species. No mosquitoes have tested positive for WNV in Grey-Bruce so far this year.
As of Aug. 6, 2022, Public Health Ontario is reporting that 14 mosquito pools have tested positive for WNV in the province so far this year.
Anyone with concerns about a dead bird can contact the Canadian Wildlife Health Co-operative at 1-866-673-4781.