Region of Waterloo and West Nile Virus

What is Region of Waterloo doing about West Nile Virus?

Mosquito Larviciding Facts in Waterloo Region

Region of Waterloo Public Health is taking the following steps to monitor West Nile Virus (WNV) activity:

  • Monitoring the presence of the virus in mosquitoes, birds and people.
  • Identifying and mapping mosquito breeding grounds in the region.
  • Controlling mosquito populations by eliminating mosquito breeding grounds and larviciding when appropriate.
  • Developing and distributing educational material about the health risks of the virus and preventative measures to 'fight the bite'.
  • Coordinating regional efforts to monitor and control WNV.

What is being done to monitor the presence of the virus in the region?

The Region is monitoring for the presence of the virus in mosquitoes that transmit the virus, and in people. This includes surveying larvae populations in local mosquito breeding grounds to detect the presence of the virus before they emerge into biting adults. The Region also performs weekly surveillance of adult mosquito populations during the season to test for the presence of WNV. Trap sites have been identified across the urban and rural areas of the region.

How are mosquito breeding grounds being identified and mapped?

The Region has identified sites for monitoring larval populations based on the potential for mosquito breeding and risk to human populations.

Examples of locations surveyed include catch basins (sewers) and storm water management ponds.

Data collected from these sites is being entered into a mapping system that tracks the date the mosquitoes were detected, the type of species present, and the density of the populations.

This information will be used to identify which sites will be monitored in the future.

What is the Region doing to control mosquito populations?

The Region has taken several measures to control mosquito populations when appropriate. These measures include larviciding to control larval mosquitoes and encouraging the public to eliminate mosquito breeding grounds and take personal protection measures.

Larviciding consists of placing granules or pellets into standing water or catch basins where mosquitoes known to breed. The larvicide methoprene is being applied to catch basins. It does not pose an unreasonable risk to the public and provides control of mosquito larvae for 30 days.

Vectobac, another type of larvicide, is being applied to sites with temporary standing water. It does not pose any risk to the public or non-target organisms. More information about these products is available from Health Canada.

Why is education about the virus important?

Since activities to control WNV on public property cannot eliminate the risk of infection, education is a critical component of the Region's efforts to control the virus.

The Region is working to educate medical and veterinary groups, animal welfare agencies, schools, employers and the general public. Educational materials, which include brochures, postcards and newsletters, have been made available in key locations such as retail establishments, public facilities, through direct mailings and on our Protecting Yourself page.

People can also call Region of Waterloo Public Health at 519-575-4400 for more information.

Who is the Region working with to control West Nile virus?

The Region is working with a number of government, medical and other officials to monitor and control WNV. These include members from area municipalities, the Grand River Conservation Authority (GRCA), school boards and hospitals.

The Region is also working closely with various ministries including the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care which is responsible for Ontario Regulation 199/03 regarding the control of WNV. Additionally, the Region has contracted GDG Environment, which has extensive experience in pest control management, to monitor mosquito populations and conduct the larviciding.

To coordinate efforts, the Region has established a Contingency Plan which outlines the various roles and responsibilities of these agencies for responding to developments in WNV.

The Region has also established a WNV Coordinating Committee to help with implementing the measures in the plan. The committee communicates regularly to provide a coordinated approach to public education efforts and control measures.