West Nile found on Toronto Islands as crews prepare to reopen attraction to visitors
Codi Wilson and Chris Herhalt, CP24.com
Published Wednesday, July 26, 2017 8:18AM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, July 26, 2017 11:26AM EDT
Mosquitoes containing the dangerous West Nile virus have been found on the Toronto Islands, just as city officials say the summer hotspot will be ready to accept visitors by Monday.
City of Toronto spokesperson Wynna Brown told CP24 Wednesday that crews are working hard to get as much of the islands open as possible by July 31.
“There will be some limitations. There are still some soggy areas over there. There are still some areas that are under water and there are some environmentally sensitive areas that we have to protect,” Brown said, adding that details on exactly what will be open and closed next week are “forthcoming.”
The islands have been closed and ferry service has been suspended to non-residents since early May due to “unprecedented” flooding.
But on Tuesday, city public health officials informed an Island residents' group that mosquitoes caught in traps on the island tested positive for West Nile.
"It is not only a local problem, as West Nile virus and vector mosquitoes are spread across Toronto and Ontario, but we did want to share this finding with you," Associate Medical Officer of health Christine Navarro told island residents in an email.
West Nile can cause symptoms including fever, headache, body aches, rashes and sometimes nausea or vomiting. In rare cases the virus can attack a person's nervous system.
The City of Toronto previously said Gibraltar Point, Hanlan’s Beach, Olympic Island and parts of Centre Island, including the grandstand, will be closed for the remainder of the summer.
“We’d like to thank everyone for their patience,” Brown said. “We know it has not been our typical Toronto summer with the island not accessible but staff are working extremely hard and diligently to get things back up and running over there.”
She said the island has not seen flooding like this since the 1970 and the flooding situation has been “very complex” and “extremely challenging.”
“The levels of water in the lake have been unprecedentedly high this year as we all know and they are receding but they are doing so slowly so it is still quite wet,” she added.
Mayor John Tory previously said the flooding has had a “significant impact” on residents and businesses on the island.
Last year, the city says there were more than 1.46 million visitors to Toronto Island Park and the islands saw upwards of 20,000 people per day during the summer season.