What is West Nile Virus (WNV)? 


West Nile Virus (WNV) is a virus transmitted by mosquitoes. WNV occurs in a wide variety of bird species and occasionally some mammals, including horses and humans. A mosquito may become infected with WNV by feeding on an infected bird. The virus is transmitted to people by the bite of an infected mosquito.

What are the symptoms of WNV?

Most people have no symptoms or have mild flu-like symptoms. In severe cases, hospitalization may be required. The elderly and those with weak immune systems are at a higher risk of developing severe symptoms.

How can I reduce my risk of WNV?

Prevention is the best way to reduce your risk of transmitting WNV. This can be done in several ways:

1. Protect yourself from mosquito bites

  • use an insect repellant containing DEET
    • Children (6mnths – 12yrs): use a repellant containing no more than 10% DEET
    • Adults (+12 yrs): use a repellant containing no more than 30% DEET
    • A higher DEET indicates a longer protection time. A DEET of 30% offers 6 hours of protection. A DEET of 5% offers 2 hours of protection
    • DEET should not be used on children under 6 months of age. Other methods of protection should be used, such as bug screens
  • ensure screens in doors and windows fit tightly are free of holes that may allow mosquitoes to get in your home
  • wear long sleeved shirts, pants and a hat to cover skin from bites
  • netted bug hats or jackets may be considered in peak mosquito season
  • wear light coloured clothing as mosquitoes tend to be attracted to darker colours, like black
2. Eliminate mosquito breeding grounds
  • mosquitoes lay their eggs in standing water. Eliminating sources of standing water from your property may help control the mosquito population around your hope.
  • some strategies for eliminating standing water in your yard include;
    • drain and refill bird baths at least twice a week
    • remove debris from your yard that may encourage the pooling of water, such as old tires or plastic containers
    • place screens over rain barrels
    • install a fountain or oxygenator in your pond to create water movement
    • regularly clean out eves troughs to encourage proper drainage
    • drain and refill livestock water troughs and pet water dishes at least two times a week

What is Timiskaming Health Unit doing?

Timiskaming Health Unit along with other health units across Ontario monitors WNV by tracking mosquito populations in the area. Throughout the summer months, Timiskaming Health Unit traps mosquitoes at various locations throughout the region and sends them away to be identified and tested for WNV.

No mosquitoes collected within the District of Timiskaming have tested positive for WNV, however mosquito species capable of carrying the virus have been found in the area. Some WNV positive mosquito pools have been reported in Southern Ontario from the Toronto, Durham, Niagara and Windsor-Essex areas. Ensure you take the appropriate steps to protect yourself from bites when travelling throughout the province and abroad.

Does Timiskaming Health Unit still collect dead birds for sampling?

Dead birds are no longer used in the tracking of WNV in the province. If you find a dead bird on your property you can dispose of it safely by picking it up in a doubled garbage bag and disposing of it with the rest of your household garbage, washing your hands thoroughly afterwards.

For more information on West Nile Virus, please visit: More Information on West Nile Virus - Government of Canada