No sign of West Nile virus here yet

While there have been some reports recently of West Nile virus showing up elsewhere in Canada, the Northwestern Health Unit said the Kenora-Rainy River districts have seen no sign of the disease among dead crows and ravens submitted for testing so far.
“I’m not sure exactly how many birds in total have been turned in. We’ve got six out of here [Kenora] already,” said Al Mathers, environmental health officer for the health unit.
“I think Fort Frances is around the same number, and there’s been a few sent out of Dryden,” he added.
“All the tests we’ve had come back have been negative,” Mathers noted. “But that’s not surprising. In past years, any positive test results have shown up in early August.”
This is because the mosquitoes that feed on both birds and mammals tend to predominate in late summer.
West Nile virus is spread to humans by the bite of an infected mosquito. Mosquitoes become infected by biting an infected bird.
Crows and ravens are particularly susceptible to the virus and thus serve as an effective early-warning indicator.
Since May 25, the health unit has been accepting dead crows and ravens that look like they may have succumbed to the virus and sending them away to the University of Guelph for testing.
To report a suspiciously dead crow or raven, contact local public health officers Brian Norris or Dave Coats at the health unit office here during normal office hours, or call the after-hours number (1-807-468-7109) with the following information:
•your name, address, and phone number;
•location of the bird, including the town or municipality and street address (if it is a rural property, please provide as accurate a location description as possible);
•the date the bird was first noticed;
•description of the bird (note its size, and colour of the feathers, eyes, and beak);
•if you are aware the bird showed any signs of unusual behaviour before it died;
•physical condition of the bird (if there are any signs of trauma or insect activity); and
•the cause of death, if known.
The bird may be suitable for testing:
•if it has recently died;
•if there are no maggots on it; and
•even if it has signs of injury or trauma.
If the bird is suitable, the health unit will pick it up and send it away for testing.
If you are told by the health unit that the bird is not suitable for testing, bury it under at least two feet of earth, or place it in two leak-proof bags and discard it in the garbage.
The virus is not spread by person-to-person contact, and it cannot be spread directly from bird to human, the health unit said.
The health unit will continue to collect reports of dead bird sightings, as well as submit crows for testing when considered appropriate, until the mosquito season definitely is over.
Updates on further positive test results will be provided when, and if, they occur, Mathers said.
A total of five dead crows in Rainy River District tested positive for the West Nile virus last summer—three in Fort Frances, one in Atikokan, and the other north of Devlin.
Mathers noted that while mosquito activity has picked up lately, it still hasn’t peaked (this usually doesn’t happen until temperatures at night are above 10 C on a regular basis.)
The risk of becoming seriously ill as a result of an infection with West Nile virus is low.
In fact, most people who become infected experience no symptoms or have a very mild illness, with fever, headache, muscle weakness, or body aches, the health unit reported.
Those at increased risk of severe illness are individuals over age 50 and people with weakened immune systems.
Symptoms of West Nile virus encephalitis (the rare, serious form of the disease) include severe headache, stiff neck, nausea. and vomiting, as well as altered levels of consciousness and mental states.