West Nile Virus

Reducing Risk of West Nile Virus Infection

There is no way to predict how serious West Nile Virus will be in any given year. Most infections of WNV will result in no symptoms. About 1 in 5 people who are infected will feel sick but will recover on their own. It is estimated that approximately one in 150 persons infected with the WNV virus will develop a more severe form of disease.

While anyone can be infected with WNV, the chances of having a severe illness are greater as you get older or if you have a weakened immune system. Children are not at greater risk of illness from WNV.

 

Sunscreen & Repellent

Insect repellent may reduce the effectiveness of sunscreen. When using them together, sunscreen should be applied 20 minutes before outdoor activities, followed by repellent just before going into an area with mosquitoes.

Children should always cover up and wear a hat to ensure protection from the sun. Products that combine insect repellent and sunscreen are not recommended.

Mosquitoes develop in stagnant water. You can reduce the number of mosquitoes around your home if you eliminate stagnant water on your property.

Tips on Reducing Standing Water

Breeding areas in a home
Adapted from the New York Department of Health

  • A - Keep your yard clean
    Uncovered garbage containers and junk piles collect water in which mosquitoes can breed.
  • B - Always inspect pools and ponds
    Poorly maintained pools and swimming pools can be breeding sites for mosquitoes.
  • C - Clean out eaves, gutters and drains
    Clogged gutters will accumulate water and create a place for mosquitoes to breed. Check flat roofs frequently for standing water.
  • D - Eliminate stagnant water
    Clean up and empty water in toys, birdbaths, tires, flowerpots, wheel barrows, and other garden objects where mosquitoes can breed.
  • E - Maintain yards and lawns
    Fill in low depressions in lawn areas. Eliminate standing water in gutters or storm drains to prevent small ponds. Install screens over catch basins. Turn compost over frequently.
  • F - Fix faucets and hoses
    Repair any leaks to faucets and hoses to prevent possible breeding sites. Prevent water from pooling around downspouts and air conditioners.
  • G - Repair window screens and screen doors
    Crawl spaces, attic vents, and broken screens allow mosquitoes to enter your home. If you don’t have screens, try to keep windows closed between dusk and dawn.

Always follow product instructions. Apply repellent lightly to exposed skin and to clothing. Never use over cuts, wounds and sunburned or irritated skin. Avoid applying to children's hands, face and eyes. If repellent gets in the eyes, rinse with water right away. When using a spray, avoid breathing it in, and always spray in a well-ventilated area. Don't spray near food. Avoid prolonged use and wash repellent off daily.

Insect repellents containing DEET can be used safely when applied as directed and in the right concentration, depending on age.

DEET Products

Adults and children older than 12 years old

  • Any product containing up to 30% DEET safe for persons 12 years of age and older.

Children aged 2 to 12 years

  • Any product containing up to 10% DEET.
  • You can apply the product up to 3 times daily

Children aged 6 months to 2 years old

  • Any product containing up to 10% DEET.
  • You should not apply the product more than once a day

Children younger than 12 years old

  • Do not use a DEET product on a daily basis for more than a month.

Infants younger than 6 months old

  • Do not use an insect repellent containing DEET.

Pregnant and breastfeeding mothers

  • There is no evidence that the use of DEET by a pregnant woman harms the fetus or affects a nursing child through breast milk. However, non-chemical methods to reduce mosquito bites can be considered.

Icaridin products

Mosquitoes and ticks can be repelled by using an icaridin product. These products should not be used on infants younger than 6 months old.

For more specific information on insect repellents visit the Government of Canada website.

Dead Birds

Since 2009, Ontario no longer conducts a WNV dead bird surveillance program. The City of Toronto will continue to use mosquito surveillance and other surveillance indicators to determine the WNV risk in Toronto.

If you find a dead bird on your property:

  • Do not touch a dead bird with your bare hands.
  • Wear gloves, use a shovel or use a double plastic bag to pick up the bird.
  • Place the dead bird into a plastic bag and double bag it.
  • Close or tie both bags tightly.
  • Place the dead bird in your regular garbage.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly afterwards with soap and water

If Toronto Animal Services is picking up the dead bird, store the bird in a cool place until arrangements have been made for pick up.