West Kelowna waiting for West Nile spray program news

  • Mar. 5, 2011 11:00 a.m.

West Kelowna, like other municipal governments, is waiting on the province to see if there will be funding for spraying larvicide against West Nile virus-carrying mosquitos.

In a letter from Interior Health Authority medical health officers, the group wrote that they continued to support mosquito larviciding as a preventative measure for West Nile virus.

But provincial backing for the spraying measures as in past years has not yet been forthcoming for the upcoming seasons.

“The B.C. provincial government and Ministry of Health Services have indicated they are, as yet, uncertain as to whether provincial funding will be continued for this same purpose in the spring and summer of 2011.”

Medical health officials have the ability under the B.C. Public Health Act to order local governments to carry out the spraying regardless of whether there is provincial funding, if there is a significant health risk from West Nile.

The letter notes that available information indicates a low prevalence of the virus in mosquito vector species and bird reservoirs.

The medical health officers wrote that the criteria for issuing such an order have not yet been met.

Such a decision would be changed if there were evidence of increased West Nile activity showing up in monitoring programs.

Mayor Doug Findlater said that if provincial funding for West Nile larviciding dries up, the province may issue an order to municipal governments to provide the service.

“Everyone continues to wait the decision of the province.”

Findlater said that as officials heard at the last meeting of the Union of British Columbia Municipalities, the province is examining the science of whether the larvicide program actually makes a difference.

He added that recent discussions at the Regional District of Central Okanagan centre around whether the body should continue to provide the spraying program simply because people don’t like to get bitten by mosquitos.

Findlater said only two small areas would require spraying in West Kelowna.

“I, for one, would like to know if we have to get into that business.”

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