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revised Wednesday July 20 2016

Lyme Disease | West Nile Virus | Eastern Equine Encephalitis

West Nile


Prevention and Protection

What you can do
Personal protection for you and your family
Around your home
At summer camps and daycares
Protect your pets
When working outdoors
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What is the Region of Peel doing?
West Nile Virus Prevention Plan

What you can do

Personal protection for you and your family

To prevent mosquito bites:

  • Avoid areas with large numbers of mosquitoes
  • Wear light-coloured clothing, including long sleeves, long pants, socks and a hat whenever you are outdoors (even when you are in your back yard), especially at dusk and at dawn
  • Use only those personal insect repellents that are registered for use in Canada. Remember to apply repellent according to the manufacturer’s directions.
  • Consider staying indoors from dusk to dawn when mosquitoes are most active
  • Check all window and door screens in your home to ensure there are no tears or holes for mosquitoes to get through

How to use insect repellent

The following guidelines on the use of a personal insect repellent are from Health Canada and the Centre for Disease Control in the United States. For additional information on repellents visit the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention and the Canadian Pest Management Regulatory Agency - Mosquito Control.

Keep in mind that the accessibility of repellents that are alternatives to DEET may differ between Canada and the United States. Manufacturers of repellent are responsible for obtaining government approval and they may not do so in both countries.

Around the home

Mosquitoes breed in stagnant water. You can help reduce the number of mosquitoes around your home if you eliminate stagnant water on your property. Follow these tips:

  • Clear leaves and twigs from eavestroughs
  • Change water in birdbaths weekly
  • Turn over wading pools when they are not in use
  • Fill in low depressions on lawn areas
  • Empty or dispose of containers that can hold water such as old tires, wheelbarrows, barrels, pails, toys, and recycling bins
  • Remove water that collects on pool covers and make sure the pool’s pump is circulating
  • Ensure flowerpots saucers, window boxes and planters drain properly
  • Check all windows and door screens to ensure there are no tears of holes
  • Place a fine mesh screen over rain barrels

Check out the interactive house for tips on eliminating mosquito breeding areas around your home.

At summer camps and daycares

West Nile Virus does not pose a higher risk of severe illness for children. However, children require adults to help them take precautions against mosquito bites. Following the tips on how to prevent mosquito bites can help reduce the risk.

The mosquitoes that carry WNV are generally more active during the early evening and early morning, so children who attend school during the daytime are at minimal risk for exposure. Schools, camps and day cares can protect children by removing breeding areas for mosquitoes and taking precautions against mosquito bites.

What are the guidelines for using insect repellent on children?

Use an insect repellent for children if they must be outdoors between dusk and dawn or if they are in an area with visible mosquitoes.

There is a wide selection of insect repellents registered in Canada. Make sure you read the label carefully and select a product that meets the needs of both you and your family. Some products are not recommended for children.

For further information of insect repellents registered for sale in Canada visit the Federal Pest Management Regulatory Agency or ask your family doctor.

How do I safely use insect repellents?

Children require adult assistance to apply insect repellent. Carefully read and follow the manufacturer’s directions and follow these guidelines to ensure safe application:

  • Do not allow young children to apply products themselves.
  • Do not apply insect repellent products directly on children. Apply to your hands and then put it on the child’s skin, avoiding the eyes, mouth, palms of hands, cuts or irritations. It is best to use liquid or cream insect repellents that can be applied by hand. Wash your hands after applying the product.
  • If children are attending summer camp, ensure they know how to use the products properly.
  • Apply insect repellent sparingly on exposed skin and on the outside of clothing. There is no need to apply to skin under clothing.
  • Wash treated skin with soap and water when returning indoors or when protection is no longer needed.
  • Store insect repellent out of reach of children.

Can I apply both sunscreen and insect repellent on my child at the same time?

Yes. You should use both a sunscreen and an insect repellent on children when they are outdoors. It is recommended to apply sunscreen first, followed by repellent. Follow the instructions on the product for the proper application of each product.

The Public Health Agency of Canada does not recommend using a single product that combines insect repellent containing DEET and sunscreen.

What should I do if my child accidentally swallows an insect repellent?

  • Call a poison control centre immediately and seek medical attention.
  • Take the insect repellent container with you to the emergency facility or physician.
  • Follow the first aid statements on the label for the insect repellent

If a child is bitten by a mosquito should he or she be tested for West Nile Virus?

No. Most mosquitoes are not infected with WNV. Even in areas where mosquitoes do carry the virus, very few mosquitoes are infected. The chances that any one bite will be from an infected mosquito are small.

If a child is bitten by an infected mosquito, will he or she get sick?

Most people, including children, who are bitten by mosquitoes carrying WNV may experience no symptoms or a mild illness. Parents or caregivers should contact a doctor immediately if a child develops symptoms such as:

  • high fever
  • confusion
  • muscle weakness
  • severe headaches
  • stiff neck, or
  • if his or her eyes become sensitive to light.

Protect your pets

DEET-based repellents, which are recommended for humans, are not approved for veterinary use, largely because animals tend to ingest them by licking. Talk with your veterinarian for advice about the appropriate product for use on your pet.

When working outdoors

How can I protect myself from being infected with West Nile Virus when working outdoors?

You can reduce your risk of contracting the disease by reducing mosquito bites. Mosquitoes are most active between April and October, during evening, night time, and dawn hours, but they may be present at any time of the day. If you work outside from dusk to dawn, when mosquitoes are most active, or during the day in a shaded area, such as woods, use insect repellent and follow these guidelines:

  • Spray clothing with insect repellent to ward off mosquitoes that may bite through thin clothing.
  • Apply sunscreen first, followed by repellent.
  • Apply insect repellent sparingly to exposed skin and follow the manufacturer’s directions for use. Do not get insect repellent in your eyes. If this happens, rinse with water right away. Do not apply to cuts, wounds, irritated or sunburned skin.
  • Wash all treated skin and clothing with soap and water after returning indoors. Wash your hands before eating.
  • Avoid breathing mist from spray-type repellent. Always apply it in a well ventilated area. Do not apply repellent near food.
  • Check for sensitivity by applying repellent to a small area of skin on the arm and wait for 24 hours before use.

How can I avoid heat stress on hot, humid days if I have to wear protective clothing?

If you wear a long-sleeved shirt, long pants, shoes and socks to reduce the risk of mosquito bites, you might be at greater risk for heat stress on hot, humid days. To avoid symptoms of heat stress, you should:

  • Wear light-coloured, breathable clothing that allows moisture to evaporate quickly.
  • Use extra caution if you are required to wear clothing on the job that limits evaporation – you could develop heat stress much more quickly.

Drink plenty of non-alcoholic and non-caffeine liquids to maintain body hydration.

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Revised: Wednesday July 20 2016

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