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The City of Evanston’s Health Department announced today mosquitoes collected in Evanston recently tested positive for West Nile Virus (WNV). Mosquitoes were collected by the North Shore Mosquito Abatement District (NSMAD) on July 18, 2011 and were the first to test positive for WNV this year. Public health officials believe that a hot summer could increase mosquito activity and the risk of disease from West Nile virus.

“To protect yourself against illness, wear insect repellent and get rid of any stagnant water around your home to reduce the number of mosquitoes,” said Evanston Health Department Director Evonda Thomas. 

Additionally, NSMAD announced they will be conducting targeted adult mosquito control operations in portions of Evanston, Kenilworth, Wilmette and Winnetka on Tuesday, July 26, 2011, between the hours of 8:00 PM and 2:00 AM, weather permitting. The specific NSMAD map number to be treated is 04-33, the northwest portion of Evanston. Please see the North Shore Mosquito Abatement District’s web site at www.nsmad.com for detailed information regarding the specific NSMAD areas to be treated.

Surveillance for WNV in Illinois began on May 1st and includes laboratory tests on mosquitoes, dead crows, blue jays, robins and other perching birds as well as the testing of sick horses and humans with West Nile-like disease symptoms. Citizens who observe a sick or dying crow, blue jay, robin or other perching bird should contact the Evanston health department 847/866-2947, health@cityofevanston.org or call 3-1-1. Health Department Staff will determine if the bird will be picked up for testing.

West Nile virus is transmitted through the bite of a mosquito that has been infected with 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 15 days after the bite of an infected mosquito. Only about two people in 10 who are bitten by an infected mosquito will experience any illness. Illness from West Nile is usually mild and includes fever, headache and body aches, but serious illness such as encephalitis, meningitis and death are possible. Persons older than 50 years of age have the highest risk of severe disease.

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:

Avoid being outdoors when mosquitoes are most active, especially between dusk and dawn.

When outdoors, wear shoes and socks, long pants and a long-sleeved shirt, and apply insect repellent that includes DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or IR 3535 according to label instructions. Consult a physician before using repellents on infants.

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 that can support mosquito breeding, including water in bird baths, ponds, flowerpots, wading pools, old tires and any other receptacles. In communities where there are organized mosquito control programs, contact your municipal government to report areas of stagnant water in roadside ditches, flooded yards and similar locations that may produce mosquitoes.

For additional information email the Evanston Health Department at health@cityofevanston.org or call 3-1-1.