July 22, 2005
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – As the heat turns up, the mosquitoes come out. This dry, hot summer is a breeding ground for mosquitoes. Although we have seen little rainfall, certain kinds of mosquitoes are out in force and some may be carrying the West Nile virus. The Illinois Department of Public Health today warns Cook and DuPage County residents to take precautions against mosquito exposure due to increased West Nile virus activity in those areas.
Since July 1, the Mosquito Abatement Districts of Cook County and local health departments have recently collected 98 new positive mosquito samples making a total of 123 and five new positive bird samples in Cook County making a total of seven. These positive samples were found in the following communities; Arlington Heights, Bartlett, Buffalo Grove, Chicago, Des Plaines, Wheeling, Rolling Meadows, Palatine, Schaumburg, Evanston, Northbrook, Glenview, Arlington Heights, Mt. Prospect, Morton Grove, Niles, Oak Lawn, Palatine, Palos Park, Roberts Park, Rolling Meadows, Schaumburg, Skokie, Wheeling, and Willow Springs. The DuPage County Health Department has collected 16 positive mosquito samples since July 1. Communities with positive mosquito samples in DuPage County include: Elmhurst, Bloomingdale, Addison, Lombard, Villa Park, Carol Stream, Itasca and Warrenville. No human cases have been reported.
“We are currently showing more West Nile virus positives this summer compared with 2002 at the same time of year when Illinois led the nation in it’s number of human cases of West Nile virus, ” said Dr. Eric E.Whitaker, state public health director. “Local health departments have been considerably more vigilant in their surveillance efforts this season and that is critical when gauging the situation and providing the public with advance warning so they take the precautions necessary to reduce risk of illness.”
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:
“We must stress that even though you may not see many mosquitoes, you should still wear repellant when you are outdoors from dusk to dawn to avoid any chance of disease infection. We do not want Illinoisans to wait until the first human case is diagnosed before citizens take action to protect themselves, the time is now,” said Dr. Whitaker.
Surveillance for West Nile virus includes laboratory tests on mosquitoes, dead crows and blue jays, and the testing of sick horses and humans with West Nile-like disease symptoms. Citizens who observe a sick or dying crow or blue jay should contact their local health department, which will determine if the bird is to be picked up for testing.
In 2004, 62 of the state’s 102 counties were found to have a West Nile positive bird, mosquito, horse or human case. A total of 60 human cases of West Nile disease, including four fatalities, were reported last year in Illinois.
In 2002, the state led the nation with 884 human cases, including 67 deaths, and West Nile activity was reported in 100 of 102 counties. In 2003, 75 of the state’s 102 counties reported West Nile activity and there were 54 human cases of the mosquito-borne disease, including one fatality. Public health officials believe that a hot summer, like that of 2002, could increase mosquito activity and the risk of disease from West Nile virus.
West Nile virus is transmitted through the bite of a mosquito that has picked up the virus by feeding on an infected bird. Most people with the virus have no clinical symptoms of illness, but some may become ill three to 14 days after the bite of an infected mosquito.
Only about two persons out of 10 who are bitten by an infected mosquito will experience any illness. Illness from West Nile disease is usually mild and includes fever, headache and body aches, but serious illness, such as encephalitis and meningitis, and death are possible. Persons older than 50 years of age have the highest risk of severe disease.
Additional information about West Nile virus can be found on the Department’s Web site at www.idph.state.il.us/envhealth/wnv.htm or people can call the West Nile Virus Hotline at 866-369-9710 Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
of Public Health
535 West Jefferson Street
Springfield, Illinois 62761
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