West Nile Virus Prevention in the South Okanagan

Spraying for West Nile in Okanagan and Similkameen underway

Ericka Kroeker

Ericka Kroeker

Later in the summer, we seem to have fewer mosquitoes bothering us.  The temperature is rising and residents are out enjoying the sun and the warmer evenings.  Even though we may not be inundated with hungry mosquitoes, residents and tourists are urged to continue to take precautions against mosquito bites.

“The mosquitoes that can carry West Nile virus are still active and searching for a blood meal,” explains Erica Kroeker, RDOS Mosquito Control. “West Nile cases generally peak in late August and September.”

The RDOS will be sending out West Nile brochures to residents in the near future with tips and contact information.

Protect Yourself

Limit your time outdoors at dawn and dusk; the mosquitoes that can carry West Nile virus are most active at these times.  Wear loose, light-coloured pants and long-sleeved shirts.  Use mosquito repellents as directed on the bottle.

At your home be sure to mend screens and reduce sources of standing water on your property.  Clean and unclog eaves-troughs and gutters and remove water from any depressions on your roof or driveway.  Refresh pet dishes and bird-baths once per week.  Remove any standing water from items such as tires, pails, tarps, boats, pool and hot-tub interiors and pool covers.

If you are bitten by a mosquito you do not have to be tested for West Nile Virus. Only one in five people that become infected show any symptoms. West Nile virus symptoms are generally similar to the flu but in some cases very serious illness can develop. Residents should contact their doctor or contact the B.C. Nurseline by dialing 811 if health issues arise. People over 50 years old are more at risk of developing serious health problems.

RDOS Helps Reduce the Mosquito Population

The Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen (RDOS) West Nile Virus Prevention Program began in mid-May this year and will continue into late August. Each week, the RDOS Mosquito Control Crew tests standing water at identified sites for the presence of mosquito larvae.  If the site requires treatment, a granular bacterial larvicide is applied to the water.  This natural bacteria kills mosquito and biting black fly at their larval stage but does not kill adult mosquitoes.  The product has been found to not harm other insects, amphibians, reptiles, fish, birds or mammals.

Storm water catch basins provide excellent habitat for West Nile Mosquitoes.  So far, the RDOS has treated over 4,400 catch basins throughout the RDOS.

The RDOS, along with provincial and health authorities, use traps to collect adult mosquitoes locally.  The type of mosquitoes are identified and then sent to the BCCDC to be ground up and tested for West Nile virus.  Dead birds of the Corvid family (includes crows, ravens, jays, magpies, and Clark’s nutcrackers) and some horses and seriously ill humans are also tested. If you are a horse owner, horse vaccines are available. Contact your veterinarian for more information.

To report a dead Corvid call the Interior Health Authority at 1-866-300-0520. To report a potential mosquito breeding site, contact the RDOS Mosquito Control Program at 250-490-4232, toll free 1-877-610-3737 or e-mail info@rdos.bc.ca.