How you get West Nile virus

West Nile virus is carried by mosquitoes. The mosquitoes become infected by feeding on an infected bird. If an infected mosquito bites you, it may pass the virus onto you. Everyone in Ontario who spends time near infected mosquitos could get West Nile virus.


Four out of five people do not show any symptoms. Others see symptoms 2-15 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito.

Common symptoms include:

  • fever
  • headache
  • body ache
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • rash on chest, stomach or back

Approximately one in 150 people will have serious symptoms including:

  • high fever
  • severe headache
  • muscle weakness
  • stiff neck
  • confusion
  • tremors
  • numbness
  • sudden sensitivity to light

How to avoid West Nile virus

Cover up

Cover up when going outside between the hours of dusk and dawn (when most mosquitoes feed). Remember to wear:

  • a long-sleeved shirt or jacket, long pants and socks
  • light-coloured clothing
  • if you will be outside for a long time, wear special clothing that is designed to protect you from bugs

Clean up

  • once a week, get rid of standing water around your home (mosquitoes lay their eggs in stagnant water, even small amounts)
  • keep bushes and shrubs clear of overgrowth and debris (adult mosquitoes like to rest in dense shrubbery)
  • turn your compost pile often

Use insect repellant

Use a bug repellent containing DEET or icaridin.

Always read and follow all the label directions when using any insect repellent. Or, ask a pharmacist for help when choosing an insect repellent product.

If you think you have West Nile virus

If you think you’ve contracted the West Nile virus, contact: