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updated: 6/25/2013 1:56 PM

DCHD launches Personal Protection Index to track WNV

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David Hass

DUPAGE COUNTY--To help DuPage County residents protect themselves against West Nile virus (WNV), the DuPage County Health Department has created a Personal Protection Index (PPI) that will inform residents of the amount of WNV activity in the county, as well as the steps they can take to protect themselves.

"This groundbreaking alert system the Health Department is launching will educate the public about the potential risk of contracting West Nile virus," said Linda Kurzawa, President of the Board of Health. "The PPI will alert residents of WNV risk levels and advise them of the precautions they should take to protect themselves and their loved ones."

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The PPI uses an easy-to-understand scale of zero to four, with zero being no activity and four announcing that multiple human cases have been confirmed. In addition, the PPI will recommend prevention tips based on the "4 Ds of Defense," which include draining standing water, using insect repellent to defend yourself, dressing with long sleeves to cover your skin and being especially careful between dusk and dawn, when mosquitoes are most active. Based on the Health Department's review of human and mosquito surveillance data, the PPI widget will be updated by 3:00 p.m. each Wednesday throughout the WNV season.

"While we all enjoy spending time outdoors, it is essential that we take the necessary precautions to defend ourselves from West Nile virus," said DuPage County Board Chairman Dan Cronin. "Thanks to the Health Department, residents now have the tools they need to keep their families healthy and safe."

The PPI was developed in conjunction with current, published guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Association of State and Territorial Health Officials. The Health Department monitors WNV activity by collecting and testing mosquitoes in numerous traps located throughout the county. The weekly updates will be determined by the Health Department's vector-borne disease surveillance experts, as they take into consideration the weather conditions and forecast, online dead bird reporting system (as an early indicator of WNV activity), the percentage of mosquito pools testing positive for WNV and the number of reported human cases in DuPage County.

For more information, visit www.dupagehealth.org/ftb and follow Fight the Bite on Twitter @fight_the_bite or become a fan on facebook.com/fightthebitedupage.

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