Can you get West Nile Virus from birds?

When West Nile virus was first identified in North America, public health officials trying to track its spread asked people to report dead birds, especially crows and blue jays. Unfortunately this gave people the impression that birds are responsible for the disease—they’re not, it’s just that corvids (like jays and crows) are particularly likely to die when infected.

West Nile virus is a mosquito-borne disease. It is spread by mosquito bites. Most people infected will never show symptoms, or might come down with a mild flu-like condition. For some people, it can be much more severe.

Now that West Nile virus is better understood and is endemic in Ontario, most public health units no longer monitor bird deaths.

How to protect yourself from West Nile Virus

To reduce the likelihood of exposure, reduce the likelihood of mosquito bites! Wear protective clothing and insect repellent, especially when out at dusk. Cover or remove standing water from your property.

Check with the Ontario government for more information on West Nile Virus.