West Nile Virus Precautions Urged!
Generally, outbreaks like West Nile Virus (WNV) typically occur during hot, dry summers. We
are now experiencing drought weather conditions similar to that which occurred during the 2005
WNV outbreak in Illinois.
Therefore it is extremely important that residents eliminate stagnant water on their properties that may produce Culex mosquitoes and implement appropriate mosquito avoidance activities (see below) during the months of July through September. Information on WNV may be found at the following websites:
2002 and 2005 WNV outbreaks in NE Illinois were preceded by extended periods of hot and dry weather. Hot and dry weather may seem contrary to the production of a mosquito problem to most people, however, the Culex mosquito that can transmit WNV is most prolific under these weather conditions. Although most people associate mosquito problems with abundant freshwater rainfall that produce typical nuisance floodwater mosquitoes, Culex mosquitoes have evolved a different life cycle that exploits stagnant water habitats produced after rainfall events and subsequent prolonged hot/dry periods. Examples of these stagnant water Culex producing water sites common on homeowner property can be seen online.
Because the nuisance flood water mosquitoes are at such low levels there may be a misconception that there are no mosquitoes biting at all! Nocturnal mosquitoes like the Culex that can transmit West Nile virus are commonly referred to as "sneaky gentle biters" since their bite frequently goes unnoticed or may occur while people are sleeping if the mosquitoes enter houses. Compounding this mosquito’s "sneaky" behavior is its predilection for seeking daytime resting areas inside or around houses ensuring closer contact and possible blood feeding on humans. Residents are advised to use insect repellent and practice mosquito avoidance measures. Mosquito repellent information may be found online.
Mosquito Abatement West Nile virus is transmitted through the bite of a mosquito that has picked up the virus by feeding on an infected bird. Common West Nile virus symptoms include fever, nausea, headache and muscle aches. Symptoms may last from a few days to a few weeks. However, four out of five people infected with West Nile virus will not show any symptoms. In rare cases, severe illness including meningitis or encephalitis, or even death, can occur. People older than 50 are at higher risk for severe illness from West Nile Virus.
Prevention The best way to prevent West Nile disease or any other mosquito-borne illness is to reduce the number of mosquitoes around your home and to take personal precautions to avoid mosquito bites. Precautions include practicing the three "R’s" - reduce, repel, and report:
Avoid being outdoors when mosquitoes are most active, especially between dusk and dawn. Make sure doors and windows have tight-fitting screens. Repair or replace screens that have tears or other openings. Try to keep doors and windows shut, especially at night. Eliminate all sources of standing water where mosquitoes can breed, including water in bird baths, ponds, flowerpots, wading pools, old tires and any other receptacles.
When outdoors, wear shoes and socks, long pants and a long-sleeved shirt, and apply insect repellent that contains DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or IR 3535, according to label instructions. Consult a physician before using repellents on infants.
Report stagnant pools of water or mosquito breeding activity to either the Northwest Mosquito Abatement District (Cook County) at 847-537-2306, or Clarke Environmental Mosquito Management (Lake County) at 800-942-2555 depending on the county you live in.
Public health officials believe that a hot summer increases mosquito activity and the risk of disease from West Nile virus.