FREDERICTON (GNB) – The Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health is reminding New Brunswickers to protect themselves against mosquito bites, following the recent positive test of West Nile virus in three American crows found dead in the Saint John region.

“While the risk of exposure to mosquito-borne illnesses is low in New Brunswick, this recent diagnosis is an important reminder for people to take precautions from spring to fall when mosquitoes are active,” said Dr. Jennifer Russell, chief medical officer of health. “Preventing mosquito bites is the best way for New Brunswickers to protect against the illnesses they can carry.”

The test results were confirmed by the National Microbiology Laboratory. West Nile was last detected in New Brunswick in 2003.

Preventing mosquito bites:

  • Make sure door and window screens fit tightly and are free of holes to prevent mosquitoes entering homes.

  • Minimize time spent outdoors at dusk and dawn, when mosquitoes are most active.

  • Wear light-coloured clothing, long-sleeved tops, long pants, and socks when outdoors or consider special screen mesh clothing (screen jackets, suits and head nets) available at most hardware and department stores, as well as at camping and outdoor supply shops.

  • Use an insect repellent containing DEET or other Health Canada approved repellents.

There are many mosquito species. They have different habitats, behaviours, preferred sources of food, and the type of water needed to breed. Some of the mosquito species that can carry West Nile virus are called "container breeders." Their eggs and larvae can develop in small amounts of water that has been standing still for a couple of days. Adult mosquitoes do not usually travel far.

To reduce the risk of exposure to mosquitoes, take the following steps to eliminate mosquito breeding sites in your yard:

  • Regularly empty standing water from articles in the yard like pool covers, flower pots, children's toys, pet bowls, etc.

  • Clean rain gutters regularly so water does not collect.

  • Turn over plastic wading pools and wheelbarrows when not in use.

  • Change water in birdbaths twice weekly.

  • Aerate ornamental ponds or stock with fish that eat mosquito larvae.

  • Remove debris that can hold rainwater, like old tires.

  • Clean and chlorinate swimming pools that are not being used and keep the pool water circulating.

Horses are also susceptible to West Nile virus. Horse owners should consult a veterinarian for advice on how to protect their horses from this disease.