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W. Nile Virus Confirmed in Canada

August 23, 2001

WINDSOR, Ontario (AP) _ A dead crow found two weeks ago in this Canadian border city has tested positive for the West Nile virus, the first time the disease has been confirmed in Canada.

Initial tests on the crow were positive, but because of its decayed condition, more tests were required. The final results were announced late Thursday.

Dr. Harvey Artsob of Health Canada, where the tests were carried out, said the discovery in Windsor came as little surprise, ``because of its warm climate and proximity to the positive sites in the U.S.″

The first North American outbreak of the virus, which can cause deadly swelling of the brain, occurred in New York in 1999 and has since killed 10 people in the United States. It has appeared in the South this year in two Florida residents, and in dead birds in Florida, Georgia and Virginia.

Initial tests for the West Nile virus on another dead blue jay found in Oakville, Ontario this month were also positive. Further tests to confirm the findings will take another week.

Finding the virus in Ontario puts scientists, medical officials and the public on alert, said Dr. Ian Barker, coordinator of the Ontario Region Canadian Co-op Wildlife Health Center in Guelph.

``The measures to be taken now are preventative, with people having to protect themselves from mosquitoes by using various repellents,″ he said.

West Nile virus is carried by mosquitoes and transmitted to animals and humans.

People bitten by a mosquito carrying the virus will experience flu-like symptoms to varying degrees. Most will have a mild reaction, and a rare few will develop an inflammation of the brain that can lead to death.

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