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The North Shore Mosquito Abatement District has confirmed the first West Nile virus positive bird reported in Evanston for 2013. The District reported that a bird collected in Evanston earlier this week tested positive for the virus.
To date, West Nile virus positive birds and/or mosquitoes have been reported in 32 Illinois counties. The Illinois Department of Public Health updates county-level data every Wednesday. Details about 2013 cases are available online at www.idph.state.il.us/envhealth/wnvsurveillance13.htm.
Last year, 55 counties in Illinois reported a West Nile virus positive mosquito batch, bird and/or human case. For the 2012 season, IDPH reported the second highest number of West Nile virus human cases in state history with 290 residents and 12 deaths. This was second only to the 2002 outbreak in Illinois in which 884 residents contracted West Nile disease and 67 died.
While no human cases of West Nile virus have been reported so far this year, the Evanston Health Department reminds residents that exposure to WNV is 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 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 practicing the three “R’s” – reduce, repel and report.
- Avoid being outdoors when mosquitoes are most active, especially between dusk and dawn.
- 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 where mosquitoes can breed, including flower pots, wading pools, old tires and any other receptacles. Change water in bird baths weekly.
- 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, according to label instructions. Consult a physician before using repellents on infants.
- Contact the North Shore Mosquito Abatement District at www.nsmad.com to report areas of stagnant water in roadside ditches, flooded yards and similar locations that may produce mosquitoes.
Surveillance for West Nile virus in Illinois includes laboratory tests on mosquito batches, dead crows, blue jays, robins and other perching birds, as well as testing sick horses and humans with West Nile-like disease symptoms.
West Nile virus is transmitted through the bite of a mosquito that has picked up the virus by feeding on an infected bird. Common West Nile virus symptoms include fever, nausea, headache and muscle aches. Symptoms may last from a few days to a few weeks. However, four out of five people infected with West Nile virus will not show any symptoms. In rare cases, severe illness including meningitis or encephalitis, or even death, can occur. People older than 50 are at higher risk for severe illness from West Nile virus.
Public health officials believe that a hot summer 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 website at www.idph.state.il.us/envhealth/wnv.htm or the City of Evanston Health Department website at www.cityofevanston.org/health.