West Nile is back in Kane County. State health officials located the first Kane County batch of mosquitoes to test positive for the disease Monday near Algonquin.
There have been no cases of human infection in the county, but county health officials said Tuesday that July and August are the months when the virus typically becomes a local concern. Last summer, 13 residents contracted the West Nile virus from positive mosquitoes. Other mosquito batches throughout the county are expected to test positive for the virus within the next few weeks following the Algonquin finding, officials said. A total of 17 other Illinois counties have also had positive mosquito batches or birds this season.
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Serious illness from West Nile is relatively unlikely. Most people bitten by an infected mosquito will have no symptoms. Those that do will see fever and head and body aches between three and 14 days after the bite. Serious illness and death are possible, particularly for people older than 50. Health officials advised the use of long sleeves and pants when outdoors and/or the use of insect repellent that includes DEET, picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus on exposed skin to deter mosquitoes.
Julie Wiegel, Kane County's assistant director for environmental health, said the particular mosquito that carries the West Nile virus thrives in hot, dry conditions. This summer has been relatively cool and wet, she said. However, that gives rise to the other problem health department officials are seeing a spike in complaints about.
Ticks like cool, humid conditions, Wiegel said. She's already heard of one person who took her dog for a walk and came back coated with 23 ticks. Wiegel said ticks should be promptly removed with tweezers with a slow but firm pull.
The county health department does offer tick identification for residents concerned about Lyme disease. The health department will tell you what kind of tick the specimen is, but officials don't test for Lyme disease.
"This winter was warmer, and we've had a very wet, cool spring," Wiegel said. "Those are ideal conditions for ticks."