WINDSOR, ONT. -- The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit has launched the mosquito surveillance program with more traps in Essex County this year.

This program, which started May 25, includes larviciding catch basins, standing water sites, and lagoons to disrupt mosquito breeding, educating residents on self-protection, conducting adult mosquito surveillance and investigating human cases.

Windsor-Essex medical officer of health Dr. Wajid Ahmed says traps have been added in other parts of the region.

“This year, we will deploy additional traps in other parts of the County like Leamington and Lakeshore to monitor these tropical mosquitoes, though the risk of Zika virus remains extremely low in our region,” says Ahmed. “The risk of contracting West Nile Virus through the bite of an infected mosquito still persists.”

The Health Unit has conducted a comprehensive West Nile Virus surveillance program since 2003.

“Each year, we have to prepare and assume that mosquitoes are carrying the West Nile virus,” says Ahmed. “By taking simple precautions, residents can reduce the risk of being bitten by mosquitoes.”

In 2016, multiple tropical species of mosquitoes (Aedes albopictus and Aedes aegypti) were identified during routine WNV surveillance in Windsor.

Both of these mosquitoes have the potential to transmit viruses not normally seen in Canada, such as Zika, Dengue fever, and Chikungunya.

As a result, the health unit responded by developing an enhanced surveillance program, which included the deployment of traps across the Windsor.

In 2019, this program was further expanded into the county, where Ae. albopictus mosquito was discovered in Kingsville.

Tips to protect yourself and your family from mosquito bites:

  • Remove any standing water in places such bird baths, buckets, old tires, pet water dishes and gutters around your property. Mosquitoes can breed in containers as small as a bottle cap!
  • Report standing/stagnant water to your local municipal by-law office.
  • Wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and a hat when outdoors. Light-coloured clothing is best as mosquitoes tend to be attracted to dark colours.
  • Use insect repellents that contain DEET, Icaridin, or other approved ingredients on clothing as well as exposed skin. Always read and follow label directions.
  • Make sure that door and window screens fit securely and are free of holes.