Health unit to screen for Zika virus carrying mosquitoes

Windsor and Essex health officials want to launch a robust $45,000 program to trap and test mosquitoes for the potentially deadly Zika virus.

The plan is being explored because mosquitoes that carry the virus were found in the region last fall, which is cause for concern, according to Dr. Wajid Ahmed, associate medical officer of health with the Windsor Essex County Health Unit. 

"There was no evidence to say they were carrying Zika virus, but just them being in the area they don't normally exist is a concern," he said.

Ahmed says special traps are needed to catch the mosquitoes because they are a different species than the ones which carry West Nile Virus. They breed during the day as opposed to the other mosquitoes, which breed at night and they are attracted to different scents.

In order to pay for the program, the health unit will ask the federal and provincial governments for help, the region's health board decided at a meeting Thursday. 

The Public Health Agency of Canada has committed $25,000 to the enhanced surveillance program and a request for the remaining $20,000 is going to Ontario's Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.