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Saying no to buffer zone

Man still suffers effects of West Nile virus

Posted: 07/9/2013 1:00 AM | Comments: 0

Last Modified: 07/9/2013 9:35 AM | Updates

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Marvin Gordon uses a cane to get around his garden. He still lives in pain seven years after contracting West Nile virus.

JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Enlarge Image

Marvin Gordon uses a cane to get around his garden. He still lives in pain seven years after contracting West Nile virus. Photo Store

Hundreds of residents are signing up for mosquito fogging buffer zones to stop the city from fogging 90 metres around their homes, but Marvin Gordon can't understand why.

Gordon, 76, is living proof what can happen if the wrong mosquito bites you.

Gordon is still suffering the effects of the West Nile virus he contracted seven years ago.

"It's no joke to live with West Nile," he said on Monday, shortly after learning more than 600 Winnipeggers have already signed up to have buffer zones.

"Eight years ago, I never gave any thought of buffer zones until something happened to me. I think more people would have second thoughts of signing up if they knew what this was like.

'Eight years ago, I never gave any thought of buffer zones until something happened to me. I think more people would have second thoughts of signing up if they knew what (West Nile) was like' -- Winnipegger Marvin Gordon, 76

"If a kid comes down with it, the parent will spend the rest of their lives looking after the kid."

The city has been fogging for mosquitoes after their numbers skyrocketed in recent days and they reached the criteria needed: a high adulticiding factor analysis (AFA), a minimum city-wide trap average count of 25 female mosquitoes for two consecutive nights and one or more quadrants of the city have about 100 female adult mosquitoes in a trap.

On Saturday, the city's average trap count was 138. By Sunday, it was down to 22, but by Monday it was 37.

City entomologist Taz Stuart said they haven't found Culex tarsalis, the type of mosquito that carries the West Nile virus, but "it doesn't say there's no risk."

There is no vaccine or specific treatment available for people who have contracted West Nile.

Gordon said he believes he was bitten while doing some gardening outside his St. Vital home.

"All I know is a few weeks later I was fine at midnight and 15 minutes later I was in an ambulance heading to hospital," he said.

Gordon was an avid golfer before he was bitten, but he has had to give up the sport. He had to use a walker to leave the hospital and he still has to use a cane. He gets severe headaches daily and has fallen numerous times.

"There should be no buffer zones. Why can people apply for buffer zones, yet I have to put up with smoke from the backyard of neighbourhood pits?" he asked.

Gordon said if the city keeps buffer zones, they should reduce the size of them.

Meanwhile, Stuart said fogging will continue nightly from 9:30 p.m. to 6:30 a.m. until the citywide mosquito count is lowered.

Areas mostly in the west side of the city were targeted Monday night, including Assiniboia Downs, Kildonan Park, Kirkfield, Sturgeon Creek, Crestview, Garden City and St. John's Park. An announcement will be made this morning where the city will fog tonight if needed.

Stuart said Assiniboine Park continues to be a "hot spot" for mosquitoes, with about 200 found. He said he suspects the mosquitoes are travelling from outside the city down the Assiniboine River to the park.

Stuart said by midday, about 650 residents had registered for a buffer zone against fogging, with about 200 of them signing up on Sunday.

The last time the city fogged in 2010, about 1,600 residents signed up for buffer zones.

Stuart said whether the city continues fogging each night depends on the average number of mosquitoes in traps the next day.

kevin.rollason@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 9, 2013 A3

History

Updated on Tuesday, July 9, 2013 at 7:11 AM CDT: Adds fact box, replaces photo

9:35 AM: Corrects reference to Culex tarsalis

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