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The City of Evanston’s Health Department reports that a 57-year-old resident of Evanston has been confirmed to have the West Nile virus (WNV), based on a laboratory test by the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH). This is the first case of WNV identified in an Evanston resident this year. IDPH has confirmed the human WNV case in Evanston as the third reported such case in the state for 2012.

WNV 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 15 days after the bite of an infected mosquito.

Illness from WNV 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.

Evanston Health Department Director Evonda Thomas strongly urges Evanston residents to take preventive measures against the spread of WNV. “The best way to prevent West Nile disease, or any other mosquito-borne illness, is to reduce the number of mosquitoes around your home. I am imploring residents to check their yards to look for any standing water. Bird baths, gutters or children’s toys might collect water and serve as a breeding ground for mosquitos. Prevention is the best means of attacking West Nile virus.”

Preventive measures include the following:

  • 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 contains DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or IR 3535. Use 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. Contact the North Shore Mosquito Abatement District at www.nsmad.com or 847-446-9434 to report areas of stagnant water in roadside ditches, flooded yards and similar locations that may produce mosquitoes.

Public health officials have indicated that the hot, dry summer the area has been experiencing increases mosquito activity and the risk of disease from West Nile virus.

Additional information about West Nile virus can be found on the Illinois Department of Public Health’s web site at www.idph.state.il.us/envhealth/wnv.htmas well as the Evanston Health Department’s web site at www.cityofevanston.org/healthor by calling 3-1-1. Mosquito abatement operations in Evanston are conducted by the North Shore Mosquito Abatement District.