Established in 1975

Dedicated to advancing public health and quality of life in Ontario

About the OVCA

The Ontario Vector Control Association was formed as a non-profit organization at the time of the St. Louis encephalitis outbreak in Ontario in 1975. It is appropriate to give recognition where it is due. Several people maintained the association, then known as the Ontario Mosquito Control Association, from the time of its inception to address St. Louis encephalitis outbreak to just prior to when West Nile virus became a Canadian concern in 2001. The Board included Mike Baskerville, Frank Mangan, Gordon Rogers and Gord Surgeoner. Their commitment and dedication to the organization enabled it to address its mandate to provide information and to support the efforts of organizations across Canada dealing with vector borne diseases such as government health agencies.

In 2001 with a West Nile virus outbreak imminent, a new Board was formed that included Mike Baskerville, Bill Huff, Stephen Nicholson, Barry Tyler and Paul Zimmer, all experienced in one way or another with mosquito control. Mike has served on the Board for over 40 years.

This new Board decided to expand the scope of the organization beyond mosquito vectors, and renamed the organization, the Ontario Vector Control Association. This would enable the organization to expand its mandate to include topics such as ticks and Lyme disease and bats and rabies.

West Nile virus wreaked its own brand of havoc with the 2002 outbreak in Ontario and provided the opportunity for the OVCA over the next 6 years to facilitate the exchange of information between those with expertise and those willing to learn. The disease spread rapidly from central to western Canada and mosquito larviciding programs were implemented. West Nile virus is now well established in Canada and annual programs continue in Ontario where human health is considered at risk.

At this time we continue to address West Nile virus and stay alert for the possibility of another St. Louis encephalitis outbreak. The more deadly eastern equine encephalitis, known to occur in rural areas of Ontario and Manitoba, is also a concern.

Other mosquito borne diseases appear to looming on the horizon. A minor resurgence of malaria, once a problem in Ontario and in the central and eastern states, occurred in 2002 near Washington D.C. not far from our southern border. Although malaria was eradicated from Canada, the Anopheles vectors remain, providing the possibility that malaria could once again be a concern.

Dengue has made a comeback into the United States with an outbreak last winter in Hawaii and prior to this in Central and South America, the Caribbean and the southern United States; Chicungunya followed and last year it was the Zika virus sweeping through some of the same regions with devastating impact. There are no vaccines for these four diseases and Canadians who like to travel to warmer “climes” are at risk of contracting them. The latter three, dengue, chicungunya and Zika are thought to be transmitted from infected people to uninfected people by primarily two mosquitoes, Aedes aegypti and Ae. albopictus. Both species have expanded their range steadily northward through the United States and in 2016 Ae. albopictus was noted for a second time, collected from CDC traps in Ontario. Perhaps with the reality of climate change we will be at risk of outbreaks of these heretofore exotic diseases within our own borders.

Over the past 5 years or so health agencies have come to recognize Lyme disease as genuine human disease with incidences across Canada. Tick monitoring and tracking human cases on an annual basis appears to have become the norm for health units in southern Ontario. However, advances in the control and cure of this disease are limited.

Rabies is associated with bats, raccoons, skunks and foxes and can be fatal for people. This disease occurs in wildlife across Canada. There have been no human cases originating Ontario for over 80 years. However, an increase in the incidence of rabies in foxes and racoons in southern Ontario resulted in ground and aerial baiting operations in 2015 and 2016.

In summary, Canada has its share of vector borne diseases, present and potential, and the mandate of the OVCA remains relevant. It is our objective to provide an update on the aforementioned topics along with advances in control and forecasting technologies at the Ontario Vector Control Association Conference in March 2017.

Barry Tyler, Ph.D.