Last updated: April 25, 2023

How do Mosquitoes Impact Human Health?

Mosquitoes are pests that feed on the blood of animals, including humans. Mosquitos can become carriers of disease by feeding on infected animals. Disease can be spread from mosquitos to humans if a disease carrying mosquito bites or feeds on a human. This is the process of vector-borne disease transmission. Mosquitoes can spread several diseases to humans including Malaria, Dengue, Yellow Fever, West Nile Virus (WNV), Zika Virus, and Eastern Equine Encephalitis Virus (EEEV).  

Fortunately, only certain species of mosquito can carry certain diseases. Currently in Ontario, West Nile Virus is the primary mosquito vector-borne disease of concern. However, experts anticipate new species of mosquitos will become detectable within Ontario overtime due to climate change. This may increase the risk of transmission of other mosquito vector-borne diseases.  

What can I do to prevent mosquito bites?

The risk of mosquito vector-borne disease transmission in Ontario is higher during the summer months, when the weather is hot. PPH strongly recommends using the following bite prevention strategies:  

  • Use Insect repellent containing DEET (follow manufacturer’s directions) or use natural products such as essential oils or soybean oil 
  • Keep shrubs and tree branches well maintained, as this is where mosquitoes like to rest 

In addition, reducing or eliminating standing water is an effective and economical way to control mosquitoes. Mosquito-breeding season runs from Mid-May until the end of September, so this is the ideal time to eliminate potential breeding sites. The following are methods for preventing stagnant water and thus mosquito breeding: 

  • Empty, cover, puncture, store inside or upside down, or dispose of containers (e.g. tires, children’s toys, wheel barrows, lawn chairs, canoes)  
  • Regularly clean eaves troughs to ensure proper drainage  
  • Use a tight-fitting screen over rain barrels  
  • Ensure proper drainage to eliminate sources of standing water  
  • Change water in bird baths at least twice a week 
  • Keep swimming pools, spas and hot tubs chlorinated. When not in use, keep tightly covered. Remove any water that accumulates on the cover.  
  • Use pumps to keep water circulating in ornamental ponds  

The City of Peterborough has a by-law (number 03-107) to “Regulate Stagnant Water in the City of Peterborough”.  This by-law prohibits standing water on properties in order to limit the risk of mosquito-borne infections by reducing potential breeding grounds. Peterborough Public Health will enforce this by-law on a complaint basis. Contact our office to file a complaint related to stagnant water.