The Illinois Department of Public Health has confirmed a positive test for West Nile virus from a pool of mosquitoes in Evanston tested on May 11.

 “The Evanston Health and Human Service Department learned of the positive test on June 1,” said Evonda Thomas, director of Evanston‘s Health and Human Services Department. 

“The positive test is not unexpected.  West Nile virus surveillance activity has been present in Evanston since the fall of 2001. This positive report should serve as a reminder to residents to take precautions to protect themselves against mosquitoes,” Ms. Thomas added.

Surveillance for West Nile virus in Illinois, which began on May 1, includes laboratory tests on mosquitoes, dead crows, blue jays, robins and other perching birds. Citizens who observe these if sick
or dying, should contact the Health and Human Services Department, 847-866-2948. The Department can determine whether the bird needs to be picked up
for testing.

The 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 who contract the virus have no clinical symptoms of illness, but some people, if infected, may become ill three to 15 days after the bite of an infected mosquito.

“Only about two in ten individuals who are bitten by an infected mosquito will experience any illness,” said Ms. Thomas. “Illness from West Nile virus is usually mild and includes fever, headache and body aches. But serious illness, such as encephalitis, meningitis, and death are also possible, she added. 

Persons older than 50 years of age are at the highest risk of severe disease.

The best way to prevent the West Nile Virus 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:

• Avoiding being outdoors when mosquitoes are most active, especially between dusk and dawn, and use prevention methods whenever mosquitoes are present.

• Wearing shoes and socks, long pants and a long-sleeved shirt when outdoors; applying insect repellent that includes DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or IR 3535 according to label instructions. Parents are advised to consult a physician before using repellents on infants.

• Making sure doors and windows have tight-fitting screens; repairing or replacing screens that have tears or other openings; trying to keep doors and windows shut, especially at night.

• Eliminating all sources of standing water that can support mosquito breeding, including water in bird baths, ponds, flowerpots, wading pools, old tires and any other receptacle that retains water standing water.

Evanston is part of the North Shore Mosquito Abatement District and works with them to control the mosquito population.  Residents are urged to contact the Evanston Health and Human Services Department, 847-866-2948, to report areas of stagnant water in roadside ditches, flooded yards and similar locations that may produce mosquitoes.

Visit www.cityofevanston.org/departments/health/health/wnv.shtml or contact the North Shore Mosquito Abatement District, 847-446-9434 or www.nsmad.com.