West Nile Virus Questions and Answers

Q: Has West Nile virus been detected in British Columbia?

West Nile virus is currently active in the Okanagan. Please check the British Columbia Centre for Disease Control website for the latest information on West Nile virus in British Columbia.

Q:Has West Nile virus been confirmed at any provincial park locations?

There are no reported cases of West Nile virus specifically associated with provincial parks. The West Nile virus advisory for Okanagan area includes provincial parks.

Everyone who is active and outdoors during the summer months – including campers, picnickers, hikers and canoeists – should make sure they use all the protection measures available to avoid contact with mosquitoes and West Nile virus. For more details, follow these links:

Q: Who can tell me if West Nile virus is present near the provincial park I’m planning to visit this summer?

The BC Center for Disease Control is leading a multi-agency group to monitor West Nile virus throughout the province, including in provincial parks. Please check their West Nile virus section for the most current surveillance information. You can also check Health Canada’s West Nile virus surveillance page.
For more information about surveillance in specific regions of the province, contact the Regional Health Authorities which serves the area you are planning to visit.

Q: How is BC Parks preparing for the presence of West Nile virus in parks?

BC Parks is currently focusing its efforts on providing access to information on how park visitors can avoid mosquito bites. Visitors are encouraged to cover up, use insect repellents, and learn more by following web links to health agency websites with information on West Nile virus.

Regional health officials are monitoring the status of West Nile virus throughout the province, including provincial parks. Health officials and local governments decide what mosquito control measures will be carried out locally. At this time, unless directed by local municipal health authorities, BC Parks does not plan to spray for mosquitoes in provincial park campgrounds or wetlands this summer.

If it became necessary to spray for adult mosquitoes, visitors will be advised about schedules before any spraying occurs through the BC Parks website and when they check in at campgrounds. Signs would be posted at all park entrances.

Q: Can I spray or fog the area around my campsite for mosquitoes?

Spraying around your campsite is not an effective way to control adult mosquitoes and reduce the risk of West Nile virus transmission. Personal protective measures are the best way to reduce risk. Mosquitoes can easily avoid contact with an insecticide being applied as a fog or spray. Insecticides that control adult mosquitoes also kill many other ‘good’ insects.

Personal protective measures are the best way to reduce risk. We ask visitors not to spray or fog the areas around their campsites or picnic areas for mosquitoes. Children, some adults, pets and wildlife are sensitive to the odours and chemicals associated with adult mosquito insecticides.

Q: How do I reduce my exposure to mosquito bites when visiting provincial parks?

From April to October, when mosquitoes are most active, you can and should try to reduce your risk of being bitten by mosquitoes. Take the following precautions:

  • Take time to cover up: Mosquitoes are most active between dusk and dawn. If you’re outside during this time – or out during the day in an area where there are weeds, tall grass, or bushes – cover up.
  • Mosquitoes are attracted to darker, more intense colours so make sure you wear light-coloured clothing that includes loose-fitting, long-sleeved shirts or jackets, long pants, shoes and socks. Tuck your pants into your socks for extra protection.
  • Invest in a bug jacket or mosquito netting for additional protection, and limit the use of colognes, perfumes, and scented body lotions that can attract mosquitoes and other biting insects.
  • Use an insect repellent: Consider the use of a federally registered insect repellent containing DEET (N, N-diethyl-m-toluamide) or lemon-eucalyptus oil (PMD) when mosquitoes are biting. Adults may use an insect repellent that contains no greater than 30 per cent DEET and no greater than 10 per cent for children. Check the label for more detailed information or ask your pharmacist or physician for assistance. Follow the manufacturer’s directions for use carefully.
  • Apply the repellent to exposed skin, and clothing as well, because mosquitoes may bite through fabric. Do not apply repellent under clothing.
  • For information and safety tips on using personal insect repellents call your doctor or visit Health Canada’s web page (pdf format).
  • Note: Health Canada advises that DEET-containing repellents are not to be used on children under 6 months of age. It recommends that, where there is a high risk of complications to the child from insect bites, DEET may be considered for children aged 6 months to 2 years. Apply only once a day. Use sparingly, avoid the face and hands, apply only once a day, and use the least concentrated product (10 per cent or less). Health Canada also advises not to apply DEET more than three times a day to children between 2 and 12 years of age.

Q: Do you have additional tips on how to reduce exposure to mosquito bites while planning for or on vacation in British Columbia’s provincial parks?

Before you go camping:

  • Repair or replace old screens in the windows, doors and vents of tent-trailers and RVs. Repair any other possible entry points into your sleeping and dining shelters, such as tears or holes in seams or along zippers.
  • Consider borrowing or purchasing a dining tent with mosquito netting so your family can enjoy protected outdoor living during periods of high mosquito activity.
  • Pack light coloured and long-sleeved clothing that includes long sleeved shirts or jackets, long pants, shoes, and tuck pants into socks for extra protection.
  • Invest in a bug suit with mosquito netting.
  • Purchase an insect repellent containing DEET, and apply the repellent according to the manufacturer’s directions.
While vacationing at the park:

  • Keep your body covered when mosquitoes are most active.
  • Wear loose-fitting clothes made of tightly woven materials that keep mosquitoes away from skin. Long pants and long sleeves, as well as shoes and socks are ideal clothing choices when mosquitoes are most active.
  • Use of a mosquito repellent containing DEET (according to the manufacturer's directions).
  • Use mosquito netting when sleeping outdoors or in an unscreened structure.
  • Place mosquito netting over infant carriers when outdoors.
  • Avoid hiking, walking or sitting in areas where mosquitoes tend to rest and breed such as leafy underbrush, wetlands, stagnant ponds and riverbanks.