West Nile Virus and Lyme Disease

West Nile Virus

West Nile Virus is spread to humans by the bite of infected mosquitoes. In rare cases, it can cause a serious illness called encephalitis (swelling of the brain). Usually in early June to late August, mosquitoes lay their eggs in small pools of water that have been standing for more than a week. Help us lower the number of mosquitoes in your area by getting rid of standing water.

Getting rid of standing water

There are a number of ways to avoid standing water around your home and business including:

  • Don't let water collect in the bottom of garbage or recycling bins, turn them over or drill holes in the bottom
  • Get rid of unwanted containers on your property
  • Clean roof gutters, downspouts and eaves troughs regularly
  • Cover rain barrels with fine mesh netting
  • Drain water from birdbaths, flower pots, window boxes, planters and swimming pool covers weekly
  • Turn over plastic wading pools, wheelbarrows and canoes when you're not using them
  • Remove standing water from tires not being used and store them indoors or in a closed shed
  • Make sure swimming pools and hot tubs are circulating water
  • Add bubbles to decorative garden ponds using an oxygenator
  • Use landscaping to eliminate standing water that collects on your property and keep your yard clear of organic debris
  • Report standing water in public areas

Avoiding mosquito bites

Protect yourself and your family from mosquito bites using the following tips:

  • Use precautions during the early morning and early evening hours when mosquitoes are most active
  • Wear light coloured clothing
  • Wear long pants, long sleeved shirts and shoes and socks in areas with a lot of mosquitoes
  • Use insect repellent when there are a lot of mosquitoes around and follow the instruction on the bottle

Contact a Public Health Inspector from York Region Health Connection at 1-800-361-5653 or 1-866-252-9933 (for the deaf or hard of hearing). 

Lyme Disease

Lyme Disease is an inflammatory illness spread through bites from infected blacklegged ticks, also called deer ticks. Infected blacklegged ticks have been found in York Region. Blacklegged ticks infected with the bacteria have been found in York Region.

Avoiding tick bites

  • Use insect repellent when you are outdoors, following the instructions on the container
  • Wear light coloured, long pants and long sleeved shirts to help spot ticks
  • Make sure your socks are pulled over your pants
  • Do a tick search of your body especially in the groin, scalp, underarm and back areas

Removing a tick

Remove any ticks you find during your tick search. Use the following steps from York Region Public Health:

  • Remove the tick by grabbing it with a set of tweezers as close to the skin and pull it straight out
  • Don't squeeze the tick
  • Don't put anything on the tick or try to burn it off
  • Use rubbing alcohol on the area you pulled the tick out
  • Put the tick in a moistened paper towel and place it in a screw-top container such as a plastic pill bottle or a plastic sealable bag
  • Store the container in a refrigerator or freezer until you can bring the tick to your local health unit for testing

Contact the York Region Health Connection for more information or call them at 1-800-361-5653.

Learn more about West Nile Virus and Lyme Disease.