West Nile virus
Anyone bitten by a mosquito carrying West Nile virus can experience symptoms that range from nothing at all to high fever, tremors, muscle weakness and more.
Learn how to protect yourself and reduce your risk of getting West Nile virus.
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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:
- body ache
- rash on chest, stomach or back
Approximately one in 150 people will have serious symptoms including:
- high fever
- severe headache
- muscle weakness
- stiff neck
- sudden sensitivity to light
How to avoid West Nile virus
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
- 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:
- your doctor or other health care provider
- your local public health unit (PHU) – enter your postal code here to find the public health unit closest to you
- Health Connect Ontario – a free, secure, and confidential service open 24 hours a day, seven days a week where you can get health advice from a registered nurse, find health services or information