Protecting yourself against West Nile Virus (WNV)

Mosquito bites have the potential to be more than just an itchy, irritating nuisance. They now bring the possibility of WNV.

There are a number of steps that can be taken to 'fight the bite'.

These include:

  • Eliminating breeding grounds
  • Screening mosquitoes out of your home
  • Taking personal protective measures

Eliminate mosquito breeding grounds

Mosquitoes need still water to lay their eggs. By getting rid of stagnant and standing water around your home, you are eliminating their breeding grounds. This in turn reduces their numbers, and helps minimize exposure to WNV.

To reduce standing water that can act as breeding grounds around your home:

  • Don't allow outdoor objects to collect water; Drain tin cans, plastic containers, toys, buckets, barrels and flower pots.
  • Change the water in birdbaths twice a week.
  • Cover rain barrels with a fine mesh screen.
  • Remove standing water from pool covers and flat roofs.
  • Store canoes, wheelbarrows and wading pools upside down.
  • Clear eaves troughs and down spouts of twigs and leaves.
  • Dispose of discarded tires.

To further eliminate mosquito breeding grounds around your home:

  • Fill in low spots on your property so water can't collect.
  • Clear out dense shrubbery where mosquitoes breed and rest.
  • Turn over compost frequently.
  • Work with neighbours to clean up common areas.

Screen out mosquitoes

To keep mosquitoes out of your home:

  • Fix any holes in window screens.
  • Make sure screens fit snugly and use weather stripping if needed.
  • Make sure doors close tightly and have a continuous seal.
  • If you don't have screens, keep windows closed from dusk to dawn.
  • Check and repair any other places that mosquitoes can enter.

Make personal protection a priority

To minimize your exposure to bites:

  • Wear long sleeved shirts and long pants.
  • Wear light coloured clothing.
  • Minimize time spent outdoors during dusk and dawn.
  • Apply a repellent containing DEET or other approved ingredients as directed by the manufacturer. Remember to use the lowest concentration needed for the time outside and never use DEET on children under six months of age.

When applying DEET, follow the recommendations for different age groups outlined in the DEET Application Chart below.

Age GroupSuggest %
Number of Applications Per Day
Newborn to 6 MonthsDEET is not recommended for this age group.
Use netting or limit time outdoors at dusk and dawn to prevent mosquito bites.
6 Months to 2 Years10% or LessNot more than one (do not apply to hands or face).
2 Years to 12 Years10 % or LessNot more than three.
Older Than 12 YearsUp to 30%Follow instructions on label.

Source: Health Canada