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 2005, and seven Canadian provinces including Alberta.
To prepare for WNV, the municipalities which form the Greater Vancouver Regional District are taking a coordinated approach to ensure that preventative measures are in place on public lands.
The City of Burnaby has been actively involved in WNV mosquito management since 2003. For up-to-date WNV-related information in Burnaby, please phone our 24-hour automated telephone line at 604-294-7597. You can read our Information on the West Nile Virus (City of Burnaby) brochure for more information.
Frequently Asked Questions
- What is West Nile Virus?
West Nile Virus (WNV) is spread to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito. The mosquitoes pick up the virus from feeding on infected birds. Not all mosquitoes or birds carry WNV. Out of approximately 50 species of mosquitoes in BC, only three mosquitoes were known to be carriers of WNV (as of 2004). Even in WNV-infected areas, the virus is found in less than 1% of all mosquitoes. The types of birds most affected by WNV are corvids, which include crows, ravens and jays. Mid May until early October are times of highest concern for WNV. However, the chance of becoming severely ill from any one mosquito bite is extremely small.
- How is it Spread?
Mosquitoes become infected with the virus when they feed on infected birds. Humans and other animals get WNV by getting bitten by an infected mosquito. WNV cannot be transmitted through regular human contact. A very small portion of infection can occur through blood transfusions or organ transplants, and in rare cases from breast feeding and during pregnancy.
- What are the Symptoms of WNV?
The majority of people who get infected with WNV have no symptoms and are not at risk for health problems. Others experience mild flu-like symptoms. Less than one percent of people infected with WNV will develop a serious illness, such as meningitis (inflammation of the lining of the brain) encephalitis (inflammation of the brain), and paralysis. The overall risk for serious illness increases with age. If illness occurs, it usually happens five to fifteen days after being bitten by an infected mosquito. For more information on possible health impacts please visit the Fraser Health Authority website.
- Have WNV Cases Been Reported in Canada?
To date, WNV has been reported from seven provinces in Canada: Nova Scotia, Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta. In 2005, 8 people died from West Nile related illnesses: Ontario (5), Quebec (1), Manitoba (1), Saskatchewan (1).
- What is the Treatment for WNV?
There is no medication or cure for WNV, but many of the symptoms of the disease can be treated. Most people who are infected make a full recovery. There is no vaccine at this time.
- What is Being Done Locally? - Notification of Control Measures
To prepare for the anticipated arrival of WNV, the municipalities which form the Greater Vancouver Regional District are taking a coordinated approach to ensure that WNV prevention measures are in place on public lands. As part of the regional process, Burnaby has made significant progress mapping the location of mosquitoes on public lands that may be potential carriers of WNV. This includes identifying mosquito breeding areas, such as artificial water bodies and storm drains (catch basins). The City will be confirming several locations on public land that would benefit from the early control of mosquito larvae that may become vectors of WNV. The City will use a range of eco-sensitive treatment options for minimizing mosquito populations and protecting human health, while also maintaining the health of wetlands, creeks and lakes. One example of a treatment option is Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis (Bti), a bacterium found naturally in soils that specifically targets mosquitoes and black flies. Please view a copy of the City's 2008 Public Treatment Notification.
To view a copy of the City’s Pesticide Use Permit for Controlling Mosquitoes for Reducing the Risk of West Nile Virus Transmission (No. 776-001-2003/2008), please visit the Ministry of Health Services web site or contact the City of Burnaby Engineering Department at 604-294-7460. The Fraser Health Authority (FHA) is coordinating the collection and testing of mosquitoes and dead corvids in Burnaby and other locations to monitor for the arrival of WNV. FHA is also responsible for the management of WNV on private lands.
- How Can I Protect Myself From Being at Risk for WNV?
- Wear 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
- Installing screens in windows and doors, and ensuring that existing screens fit tightly against their frames and are free of holes
For more information on WNV, please download and print one of the following documents:
- Information on the West Nile Virus (City of Burnaby)
- West Nile Virus: Reduce Your Risk: English (Fraser Health Authority)
- West Nile Virus: Reduce Your Risk: Punjabi (Fraser Health Authority)
- West Nile Virus: Reduce Your Risk: Chinese (Fraser Health Authority)
- West Nile Virus: Reduce Your Risk: Japanese (Fraser Health Authority)
- West Nile Virus: Reduce Your Risk: Korean (Fraser Health Authority)
- West Nile Virus: Reduce Your Risk: French (Fraser Health Authority)
- West Nile Virus: Reduce Your Risk: Vietnamese (Fraser Health Authority)
- How Can I Help Protect My Community?
Eliminating mosquito breeding ground, such as standing bodies of water on your property or at your place of work, is the most important thing the public can do minimize the spread of West Nile.
Reducing Mosquito Breeding Areas at Home: Warm, nutrient-rich standing water - even as little as a teaspoon of water - is the preferred habitat of mosquitoes. A survey of your home exterior will help to reveal those areas that need to be monitored from Spring to Fall. The following actions can be taken:
Cover or overturn toys, equipment or containers that may collect rain water.
Change the water in pet bowls and bird baths weekly.
Remove water that collects in tarps, pool covers, flat roofs, patios or other surfaces.
Use fine mesh to cover rain barrels and containers that cannot be overturned.
Chlorinate or cover pools or hot tubs.
Aerate ornamental pools, stock them with fish or change the water weekly.
Clear leaves and twigs from eavestroughs and gutters.
Keep storm drains clear of tree blossoms, leaves and grass clippings.
Bag all yard waste in clear plastic bags for curb-side pick-up or compost them in a well-aerated bin.
Avoid pesticide use around the home.
Reducing Mosquito Breeding Areas at Your Place of Work: Owners/managers of commercial and industrial properties, or sites undergoing development also have a role to play in monitoring exterior areas for pooling water. The following actions can be taken:
Fill-in or level any depressions in the landscape resulting from tire ruts or excavation.
Store or cover abandoned equipment, tires, storage drums or refuse areas.
Remove water that collects in tarps, flat roofs, awnings or other surfaces.
Clear decaying grass, leaves or other organic matter from drains, gutters or refuse areas.
Pump-out accumulated sludge in catch basins or trench drains on private property.
Install fountains or aerators in bio-ponds, reflecting pools or other artificial water bodies.
For additional control measures on private lands please contact the Fraser Health Authority. All actions taken must be in compliance with Federal and Provincial regulations.
- What Should I do if I Find a Dead Crow or Jay?
- Will Wetlands Spread WNV?
No. Healthy wetlands and other vegetated water bodies have features that reduce the numbers of mosquitoes. Natural areas are home to over 400 mosquito-eating aquatic insects, birds and amphibians. This balanced predator-prey relationship provides natural mosquito control without requiring the use of larvicides (products that kill mosquito larvae).
Disturbing natural areas would increase the risk of WNV since predators would be removed.
Water that is turbulent or stirred by wind action is also unlikely to support mosquito populations. That is why it is extremely important to preserve wetlands, creeks, lakes and ditches. These differ from human-built areas, which tend to have stagnant, pooled water that mosquitoes prefer to breed in.
- How Can I Encourage the Presence of Natural Mosquito Predators?
Where possible, maintain shrubs and brush on your property that provide habitat for many predatory birds and insects.
Grow emergent plants like cattails and bulrushes in your pond to attract dragonflies and other predatory insects.
Install bird houses on your property to encourage natural predators of adult mosquitoes.
Encourage the presence of predatory amphibians and reptiles in your yard, such as frogs, salamanders and newts.
- Where Should I Go For More Information?
To report a dead crow or jay or to learn more about WNV:
- Fraser Health Authority Toll-free:
- BC Centre of Disease Control
For information on WNV symptoms:
To learn more about mosquito management in the GVRD:
For other inquiries:
- City of Burnaby, Engineering Department
Phone (24 hour automated): 604-294-7597
Phone (during regular business hours): 604-294-7460
- Fraser Health Authority Toll-free: