West Nile Virus
How to Reduce Mosquito Activity Around the House
Mosquitoes need standing water to breed, and even an amount as small as a bottle cap will serve the purpose. Mosquito larvae can develop in any accumulation of water that's allowed to stand for four days or more. The most effective way to reduce mosquito activity is to remove any opportunity for standing water to accumulate around your home:
Ensure that containers in and around the yard like pool covers, saucers under flower pots, children’s toys, pet bowls and wading pools are emptied of standing water regularly.
Clean eaves troughs of debris regularly so water does not accumulate.
Empty bird baths twice weekly.
Ensure that openings in rain barrels are covered with mosquito screening and tightly sealed around the downspout.
Old tires are one of the most common mosquito breeding sites. Ensure that your yard is free of debris that can accumulate rain water.
West Nile Virus: Outdoor Workers, Gardeners and Outdoor Enthusiasts
With the threat of West Nile virus, outdoor workers must take special precautions when working outside:
- Wear long-sleeved shirts and pants.
- Buy special mesh suits with elasticized cuffs and attached hoods to wear when working near standing water or in swampy, wooded areas.
- Wear high boots and tape to seal ends of pants to prevent mosquito bites.
- Wear light-coloured clothing since mosquitoes are less attracted to light colours.
- Apply insect repellent containing DEET to clothing.
- Wear mosquito net over hat or cap to protect head, face and neck.
- Try to work in cooler conditions, when there is brisk air movement or when the sunlight is stronger. Mosquitoes are less active in these conditions.
- Use DEET insect repellents on all exposed skin. Keep away from eyes and mouth. Don't apply on palms of hands and fingers. Wash your hands after application.
- If possible, stay indoors at dawn and dusk and in the early evening hours, when mosquitoes are most active.
During the summer months, minimize the risk of West Nile virus infection by taking the following precautions:
- Limit the time your child spends outdoors at dawn and dusk, when mosquitoes are most active.
- Have your child dress in light-coloured long sleeved shirts and pants and a hat.
- Use insect repellent that contains DEET (be sure to follow the manufacturer's directions).
- Don't use a repellent that contains DEET more than three times a day on children between 2 and 12 years of age.
- Apply repellent to your own hands and rub them on your child to transfer the repellent.
- Don't apply to your child's face or hands, or to any cuts, wounds or irritated skin.
- Make sure that window and door screens in your home fit tightly.
- Drain standing pools of water (saucers under flower pots, bird baths, pet bowls) near your home that mosquitoes could breed in.
Choosing a Personal Insect Repellent
Choose a product that meets your needs. For example, if you plan to be outdoors for a short period of time, choose a product with a lower concentration of repellent, and repeat application only if you need a longer protection time.
Use only personal insect repellents that have a Pest Control Product registration number and are labelled as insect repellents for use on humans. Never use a product labelled as an insecticide on your body.
The higher the DEET concentration in the repellent formula, the longer it provides protection. While this is true for protection against both mosquitos and ticks, DEET repels mosquitos for a longer duration than for ticks. When seeking protection against ticks, look for a product that specifies use for ticks. Health Canada has approved the following concentrations for different age groups. Prolonged use should be avoided in children under the age of 12.
- Up to 30% concentration of DEET for adults and children over 12 years of age. One application of 30% DEET should be effective for six hours against mosquitos.
- Up to 10% concentration for children aged two to 12, applied up to three times daily. One application of 10% DEET should be effective for three hours against mosquitos.
- Up to 10% concentration for children aged six months to two years, applied no more than once daily. One application of 10% DEET offers three hours of protection against mosquitos.
Do not use personal insect repellents containing DEET on infants under six months of age. Use a mosquito net when the child is outdoors in a crib, playpen or stroller.
For more information about the use of DEET on adults and children over the age of 6 months, click on the following link: DEET Can Be Used Safely on Children and Adults
General Use Information for all Personal Insect Repellents
- Always read the entire label carefully before using. Follow all of the label directions, including restrictions for use on children and the maximum number of applications allowed per day
- Apply the repellent sparingly, and only on exposed skin surfaces or on top of clothing. Do not use under clothing. Heavy application and saturation are unnecessary for effectiveness. Repeat applications only as necessary and directed on the product label
- Try not to get repellent in your eyes. If you do, rinse them immediately with water.
- Do not use the repellent on open wounds, or if your skin is irritated or sunburned.
- Avoid breathing spray mists and never apply sprays inside a tent. Use only in well-ventilated areas. Do not use near food.
- When using sprays, do not spray directly onto face; spray on hands first and then apply to face.
- Wash treated skin with soap and water when you return indoors or when protection is no longer needed.
- Keep all insect repellent containers out of reach of children and pets.
- Always supervise the application of insect repellents on children.
- Avoid applying repellent to children's hands to reduce the chance of getting the repellent in their eyes and mouths.
- If you suspect that you are, or that your child is reacting to an insect repellent, stop using the product immediately, wash treated skin, and seek medical attention. When you go to the doctor, take the product container with you.
- If you are concerned that you might be sensitive to a product, apply the product to a small area of skin on your arm and wait 24 hours to see if a reaction occurs.
For more information from Health Canada on insect repellents, click here.
Source: Health Canada