Waukegan, Ill. -- The Lake County Health Department and Community Health Center is reporting the first two confirmed human cases of West Nile virus in Lake County for 2017. A female Grayslake resident in her 70s was hospitalized after becoming ill mid-August, and a female Mundelein resident in her 40s was also hospitalized in late August.
"This is the time of year when we begin seeing human cases of West Nile virus," said Mark Pfister, the health department's executive director. "Although the weather is getting cooler, mosquitoes will remain active until the first hard frost. We encourage people to stay active outdoors, but please remember to wear insect repellent and take other precautions to avoid mosquito bites."
On August 15, the Health Department conducted an emergency aerial larvicide treatment to areas along the Des Plaines River impacted by flooding, targeting 130 acres where Culex mosquitoes were breeding. Culex mosquitoes are the primary carriers of West Nile virus. To date, 52 pools or batches of mosquitoes and one bird have tested positive for West Nile virus in 2017.
Since 2002, there have been 60 confirmed human cases of West Nile virus in Lake County, as well as two confirmed deaths.
Remember to practice the "4 Ds of Defense" to protect yourself and your family from mosquitoes:
• Drain items that collect standing water, such as bird baths, gutters, plant containers, and buckets from around your home and business.
• Defend yourself by wearing insect repellent containing DEET.
• Dawn and Dusk: Be extra cautious outdoors during these peak hours of mosquito activity.
• Dress with long sleeves, pants, and closed-toe shoes to cover skin.
Most people infected with West Nile virus have no symptoms of illness. However, some may become ill approximately three to 15 days after the bite of an infected mosquito. Common symptoms include fever, nausea, headache and muscle ache. In some individuals, severe illness including meningitis or encephalitis, or even death, can occur. People older than 50 and individuals with weakened immune systems are at higher risk for severe illness from West Nile virus. Contact your health care provider if you are experiencing symptoms of West Nile virus.
Find more information on the Health Department's website, www.lakecountyil.gov/2371/West-Nile-Virus.
To report dead birds, areas of stagnant water (which are conducive for mosquito breeding), or to obtain more information on the signs and symptoms of West Nile virus, call the Health Department's West Nile virus hotline at (847) 377-8300.