Dead blue jay tests positive for West Nile virus in Toronto area

Monday, August 20th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

TORONTO (AP) _ A dead blue jay found in Ontario has tested positive for the West Nile virus, indicating that the disease may have spread to the Toronto area, health officials said.

Final tests will take up to two weeks, said Bob Nosal, medical officer of health for Halton Region.

Officials in the border town of Windsor are already awaiting final tests on a crow found with the virus earlier this month. The crow is the first known case of the mosquito-borne virus in Canada since the disease was discovered in North America in 1999.

West Nile virus, which can be transmitted to humans though mosquito bites, can be fatal, especially to the elderly or those with weak immune systems. At least 10 people in the United States have died of the virus.

About 800 bird corpses tested in Ontario earlier this year tested negative for the virus, Nosal said.

``That's the significance,'' he said. ``Up until last week, after three months of testing, everything was always negative, and now within three days, you've got two health units reporting _ at least on initial testing _ a positive result.''