Prevention of West Nile virus

Discover how West Nile virus can be prevented.

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How can West Nile virus infections be prevented?

The best way to avoid becoming infected with West Nile virus is to prevent mosquito bites.

Mosquitoes are often most active at dawn (first light) and dusk (just before dark).

Cover exposed skin

When you are outside, wear:

  • long pants and loose-fitting shirts with long sleeves
  • socks and a hat
    • (try a mosquito net over your hat to protect your head
  • light-coloured clothing (mosquitoes are attracted to dark colours)

Use insect repellent

When you are outside, you should use insect repellents (bug sprays and lotions) that contain the chemicals DEET or Icaridin.

How can you reduce mosquito habitats near your home?

Mosquitoes lay eggs in standing water (water that does not move or flow).

Get rid of standing water around your home by following these tips:

  • drain or dry off water in:
    • old tires (even tire swings)
    • rainwater barrels
    • children's toys
    • flowerpots
    • wading pools
  • clean eavestroughs regularly to prevent clogs that trap water
  • tip fishing boats and gear onto their sides to drain
  • replace the water in outdoor pet dishes and bird baths at least 2 times a week

Put screens on your windows and doors to keep mosquitoes out of your home.

How should you handle dead animals and wild birds?

If you find a dead animal or bird, do not handle the body with your bare hands. Always wear rubber gloves when touching any dead bird or animal.

Report dead birds that you suspect have West Nile virus.

If you hunt or skin wild animals, remember that West Nile virus can spread through blood-to-blood contact.

To help protect yourself from diseases the animal might have:

  • always wear gloves when you handle dead animals
  • always make sure any open wounds on your hands are covered
  • wash your gloved hands, and then wash your bare hands every time you handle a  dead animal

There is no evidence that people can get West Nile virus from eating fully cooked infected birds or animals.

What information is available for First Nation communities?

Health care providers can give information sessions specifically for:

  • First Nations residents
  • Chiefs and councils
  • leaders
  • community workers

First Nations residents can contact their health care provider for more information

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