The most effective way to prevent a West Nile virus (WNV) infection is to avoid mosquito bites. For additional WNV services and information, including information for health professionals visit the West Nile virus Government of Canada website.

  • Wear light-coloured, long-sleeved shirts and pants when outdoors.
  • Apply insect repellent containing N,N-Diethyl-meta-Toluamide (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 mosquitos 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 N,N-Diethyl-meta-Toluamide (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 per cent DEET safe for persons 12 years of age and older.

Children aged two to 12 years

  • Any product containing up to 10 per cent DEET.
  • You can apply the product up to three times daily

Children aged six months to two years old

  • Any product containing up to 10 per cent 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 six 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

Mosquitos and ticks can be repelled by using an icaridin product. These products should not be used on infants younger than six 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 mosquitos.

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.

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

Areas on your property where mosquitoes can breed
Areas on your property where mosquitos can breed.

A – Keep your yard clean

Uncovered garbage containers and junk piles collect water in which mosquitos can breed.

B – Always inspect pools and ponds

Poorly maintained pools and swimming pools can be breeding sites for mosquitos.

C – Clean out eaves, gutters and drains

Clogged gutters will accumulate water and create a place for mosquitos to breed. Check flat roofs frequently for standing water.

D – Eliminate stagnant water

Clean up and empty water in toys, birdbaths, tires, flowerpots, wheelbarrows, and other garden objects where mosquitos 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 mosquitos 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 West Nile virus 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.