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The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) has confirmed the first West Nile virus (WNV) positive mosquito batch reported in Illinois for 2013. While the City of Evanston has not yet had reported cases of WNV, the Evanston Health Department reminds residents that exposure to WNV is still a risk throughout the summer months.
“Despite the lower level of West Nile Virus activity so far this year as compared to this time last year, we continue to emphasize mosquito prevention measures to Evanston residents,” said Health Department Director Evonda Thomas-Smith.
The best way to prevent WNV, 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. The Health Department recommends wearing insect repellent and protective clothing to prevent mosquito bites when outside and emptying containers with standing water around properties.
The North Shore Mosquito Abatement District (NSMAD) conducts surveillance, source reduction, larval control and targeted adult mosquito control operations as needed throughout Evanston. Mosquito abatement reduces the risk of exposure to WNV, but does not replace the need for personal precautions to avoid mosquito bites.
Residents can get advance notice of planned adult mosquito abatement operations via e-mail or text. Spraying for adult mosquitos in Evanston is conducted by NSMAD. Typically, member communities get about 48 hours’ notice prior to spraying and operations are conducted in the late evening to early morning hours as weather permits. To sign up for the notification system, residents should go to www.cityofevanston.org/subscribe, select subscription type, enter their email or wireless number and then choose “Mosquito Abatement” under the “Special Interest” section. Alerts will be sent with the information provided to the city of Evanston by NSMAD.
Last year, the state of Illinois reported 290 WNV cases and 12 deaths. As temperatures increase, so do the risks of WNV; higher than average temperatures and low rainfall likely contributed to the highest number of WNV cases reported last year since the initial epidemic in 2002. Animals, such as birds, can be infected as well and dead birds can be a sign that WNV is being transmitted between birds and mosquitos in the area. To report a dead bird, residents should call 3-1-1.
For more information on WNV, visit www.cityofevanston.org/health or call the Evanston Health Department at 847/448-8055.