Reducing the Risk of West Nile Virus
The most important way to prevent a West Nile Virus (WNV) infection is to avoid mosquito bites:
- Wear light-coloured, long-sleeved shirts and pants when outdoors.
- Apply insect repellent containing DEET or icaridin, following the manufacturer instructions.
- Take extra care during peak mosquito biting time (dusk and dawn) by using mosquito repellent and wearing protective clothing.
- Remove standing water from your property, where mosquitoes can breed.
- Ensure your home has tight-fitting screens on windows and doors.
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.
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.
Mosquitoes and ticks can be repelled by using an icaridin product. These products should not be used on infants younger than 6 months old.
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.
For more specific information on insect repellents visit the Government of Canada website.
Mosquitoes develop in stagnant water. You can reduce the number of mosquitoes around your home if you eliminate stagnant water on your property.
- 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.
Since 2009, Ontario no longer conducts a WNV dead bird surveillance program.
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.