Keeping Halton safe from West Nile virus and Lyme disease this summer

The summer months are always a fun time to relax and enjoy with our family and friends in the great outdoors. However, summer also brings out some of the less desirable aspects, namely insects and the diseases they may carry. This is why Halton Region staff works hard to help protect our communities from insects that carry West Nile virus (WNV) and Lyme disease. By monitoring and reducing the amount of mosquitoes in Halton, testing ticks for Lyme disease and helping residents make informed choices to prevent West Nile virus, we can keep Halton safe and healthy this summer.

Reducing mosquitos protects Halton from West Nile virus

West Nile virus is spread by mosquitoes. The Halton Region Health Department monitors and prevents mosquito larvae from hatching to help control the mosquito population and reduce the threat of West Nile virus in the region. Staff has started treating areas of standing water with a larvicide to prevent mosquito larva from maturing into adult mosquitos and has set mosquito monitoring traps throughout Halton to determine the level of WNV risk. The number and types of mosquitoes in the traps are then examined and sent for WNV testing.

While Halton works to reduce the chance of WNV in the region, residents can also prevent and protect themselves. The most important step in preventing West Nile virus is to avoid mosquito bites and a few simple actions can make all the difference:

  1. Wear insect repellent with DEET or Icaridin;
  2. Avoid being outdoors at dusk and dawn;
  3. Cover up: wear light coloured clothing that covers your arms and legs; and
  4. Remove areas of standing water from your home. Mosquitoes lay their eggs in water that does not flow.

If you notice any areas of standing water on public property that can’t be drained or removed, please report it to the Health Department and they can determine if larviciding is necessary.

Practice tick safety when travelling

While the risk of tick-borne diseases in Halton is low, it’s important that residents are still aware of how to protect themselves.

Residents engaging in outdoor activities in wooded, brushy or tall grass areas including those travelling to identified risk areas (Long Point Provincial Park, Pinery Provincial Park, Point Pelee Provincial Park, Rondeau Provincial Park, Rouge Valley, Turkey Point Provincial Park, Prince Edward Point National Wildlife Area, Wainfleet Bog Conservation Area and St. Lawrence Islands National Park) should be especially cautious and know how to avoid tick bites. If you do find ticks, Halton residents can submit them for testing through the submit-a-tick program.

By working together, we can help keep our community safe and healthy and ensure that Halton continues to be a great place to live, work, raise a family and retire. Learn more about West Nile virus and Lyme disease by visiting halton.ca/wnv or halton.ca/lymedisease, or dialing 311.

As always, if you have any Regional concerns or comments you would like to share, please feel free to email me at gary.carr@halton.ca. You can also find me on Twitter @garycarrhalton, LinkedIn or Facebook. To receive further updates on Regional issues, please subscribe to my quarterly e-newsletter, “The Carr Report”.