West Nile Virus

West Nile Virus (WNV) is a mosquito-borne illness that began spreading westward across North America in 1999. It has since spread to all continental US states, including California and Oregon in 2004, and seven Canadian provinces including Alberta. While the virus has not yet been detected in the Lower Mainland, the first human case in BC was confirmed in 2009 in the Okanagan and the virus was detected in an Okanagan crow in August 2010.

About the Virus

West Nile Virus is transmitted to humans by certain species of mosquitoes, and is also carried by some birds and by horses. Corvids (ravens, crows, magpies, and jays) are more likely to die from infection and thus provide an early warning mechanism to alert health authorities to the presence in the region.

What can you do to reduce the risk of West Nile virus?

Even a small amount of stagnant water can serve as a mosquito breeding area. To help reduce the risk residents are encouraged to eliminate common mosquito breeding sites around their homes:

  • Empty saucers under flower pots and change water in bird baths often.
  • Empty wading pools when not in use, drain tarps, pool covers and trampolines that fill with rainwater.
  • Unclog rain gutters.
  • Use fine mesh to cover rain barrels and containers that cannot be dumped.
  • Remove used tires and other debris where rainwater may collect.

The easiest way to avoid WNV is to prevent mosquito bites by:

  • Wearing shoes, socks, light-coloured pants, long-sleeved shirt and a hat when outdoors for long periods of time.
  • Avoiding outdoor activities at dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active or wear appropriate clothing.
  • Using a personal insect repellent containing DEET or Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus, and follow all instructions for use. Please refer to Health Canada's recommendations on the safe use of DEET.
  • Installing screens in windows and doors, and ensuring that existing screens fit tightly against their frames and are free of holes.

More Information About West Nile Virus

General Health Information:
Vancouver Coastal Health Authority
Tel: 604-983-6700 or Toll Free: 1-866-884-0888

For information on West Nile Virus symptoms:
Call the BC Nurseline at 604-215-4700 or Toll-free: 1-866-215-4700

To report a dead crow:
Environmental Health Office
Vancouver Coastal Health
Tel: 604-983-6700

To learn more about West Nile Virus:
BC Centre of Disease Control
Tel: 604-660-0584

For other inquiries:
City of North Vancouver
Tel: 604-983-7333

Share |