Public health interventions are often defined as actions to improve health and quality of life through prevention and treatment of disease and health conditions. Although the majority of our work has a local focus with community specific needs in mind, there are times when we must look beyond our geographic borders and consider the effects of emerging public health issues around the world. In 2016, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared Zika virus disease (ZVD) a public health emergency of international concern. When present during pregnancy, the Zika virus infection was associated with a birth defect of the brain called microcephaly and other severe brain defects. The
majority of ZVD cases in the Caribbean, South America and Florida are caused by a specific species of the mosquito called Aedes aegypti.
During our regular summer mosquito trapping season, the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit (WECHU) discovered a species of mosquito called, Aedes albopictus, which is also capable of transmitting the ZVD. The discoveries, which occurred over the span of a few weeks, were significant because this mosquito normally prefers warmer weather for growth and it was the first time in Canada that the Aedes albopictus mosquitoes had been found. Through testing, we were able to confirm that all of the captured mosquitoes were negative for ZVD. During this time, WECHU
staff worked closely with our provincial and national partners in public health to identify the mosquito habitat and take action to disrupt further population growth in our region. Moving forward, WECHU has committed to enhanced monitoring of mosquitoes to reduce the potential risk to our community.
Throughout this year, our team of dedicated staff worked hard to protect our residents from many health hazards, in addition to ZVD. We plan to continue working closely with our clients and community partners to
provide education, increase awareness, and advocate for support about existing and emerging public health issues affecting Windsor and Essex County.