First indicator of West Nile virus reported in Lake County

The first confirmed indicator of the potentially deadly West Nile virus has been reported in Lake County.

According to the Lake County Health Department, a batch of mosquitoes sampled June 12 in Highland Park tested positive for the virus, which usually shows no symptoms but may cause fever, nausea, headache or muscle aches and, in some people, severe illness or death.

“We can take steps to ‘Fight the Bite’ to protect ourselves and our families from a potentially deadly disease,” said Mark Pfister, executive director of the health department and community health center.

Health officials say to practice the four “Ds” of defense:

∙ Drain: Eliminate standing water from around your home, yard or business

∙ Defend: Defend yourself by using repellent containing DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, 2-undecanone, or IR3535 and reapply per label directions.

∙ Dawn and dusk: Protect yourself all day and night and wear repellent outdoors at dawn and dusk, the prime hours for mosquito activity.

∙Dress: Wear long sleeves, pants and closed-toe shoes outdoors to cover skin.

Culex pipiens mosquitoes, the primary carriers of West Nile, are most abundant when the weather is dry and hot. Mosquitoes are tested weekly and trapping results throughout the county are coordinated by the health department.

The department also monitors reports of dead birds — an early sign of the presence of the virus — and investigates areas of stagnant water for the presence of Culex mosquito larvae.

Traps are set from late spring to fall. Last year, 173 of 763 mosquito pools tested positive for West Nile virus and one human case was reported, according to the health department.

Since 2002, there have been 80 confirmed human cases of West Nile virus in Lake County and four confirmed deaths.

Most people infected with the virus show no symptoms but some may become ill usually three to 15 days after the bite of an infected mosquito. Severe illness can include meningitis or encephalitis. People older than 50 or with weakened immune systems are at higher risk for severe illness, according to the health department.

Visit Call the West Nile hotline, (847) 377-8300, to report stagnant water, dead birds and for more information on the signs and symptoms of West Nile virus.

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