West Nile virus is primarily transmitted to people through the bite of an infected mosquito. Evidence shows that many people infected with West Nile virus have mild symptoms, or no symptoms at all. People with weaker immune systems and people with chronic diseases are at greater risk for serious health effects.
Although the chance of being infected is low - and the percentage of those infected that develop severe health effects is even lower - everyone in an area that has West Nile virus activity is at risk. However, risk for serious health effects generally increases with age. It is very important to reduce the risk to you and your family by taking steps to avoid mosquito bites since this new disease is in Canada to stay. Last year, West Nile virus was identified in Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta.
The best way to avoid becoming infected with West Nile virus is to not get bitten by a mosquito. There are two ways to lessen the risk of mosquito bites for you and your family:
By taking simple precautions to lessen your chance of being bitten by a mosquito, you can also lessen your chance of getting West Nile virus.
Mosquitoes lay eggs in standing water and it takes about four days for the eggs to grow into adults that are ready to fly. Even a small amount of water, for example, in a saucer under a flower pot, is enough to act as a breeding ground. As a result, it is important to eliminate as much standing water around your property as possible by:
Over-the-counter products that are designed to get rid of garden pests aren't effective for overall mosquito control. Regarding the use of other pesticides, only workers who are licensed by provincial authorities and are trained in the safe use of pesticides can carry out mosquito control programs. Decisions on whether or not to use pesticides to control the spread of West Nile virus in your community will be made by local and provincial health authorities.
As a first step, people should try to eliminate standing water on their property by, for example disposing of old tires and containers and cleaning out rain gutters. However, for wholly-contained sources of standing water on private property where draining is not a practical option, there are registered Domestic and Commercial-class mosquito larvicides available. These contain Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis (Bti), a naturally-occurring microbe that has minimal impact to health and the environment. For these products to be effective, users must follow the specific instructions on proper timing for their application. For more information, visit the Pest Management Regulatory Agency Web site.