Editorial: Common sense and the West Nile virus
At his final State of the Village address, Lombard Village President William Mueller advised, "Remember, every day is a gift. Take time to enjoy it."
Hundreds turned out a week ago for the funeral for Mueller, active in the civic life of Lombard for more than four decades. "I called him the miracle man," daughter Donna Fruehe said. "He inspired me every day."
We hope that in his passing Mueller continues to inspire and, in particular, that his death reminds all of us to take the threat of the West Nile virus seriously.
To be sure, because of his age (76) and because he had cancer, Mueller had more to fear from the virus than most. It tends to be more dangerous to those with weak immune systems than to the rest of the general public.
But the fact is, everyone is at risk, and this year's outbreak may end up being the worst since the virus was first reported in Illinois a decade ago.
Because it's been a part of life in the suburbs for so long, we all tend to be inured to it. In our reader survey on dailyherald.com a few weeks ago, we asked what precautions people were taking to avoid the virus, and the vast majority indicated they were taking no precautions at all.
Admittedly, it's an unscientific survey and too much can be read into it. But the general feeling seems to be a shoulder shrug: "West Nile hasn't gotten me yet, so it's not apt to get me."
That's akin to assuming that since you've never been in a major auto accident, you don't need to wear a seat belt.
Throughout Illinois and, for that matter, the country, there's been a spike in the reported cases of West Nile virus. That's not cause for panic. A lot of other diseases pose bigger threats to the public health.
But it is cause for common-sense precautions.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the most important thing you can do is to try to protect yourself and your family from mosquito bites.
That means applying insect repellent to exposed skin. The more active ingredient a repellent has, the longer it will last.
It also means applying repellents containing permethrin to clothing. (Do not, however, spray repellents with permethrin directly on your skin.)
The CDC suggests that, when possible, wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants outdoors.
It recommends placing mosquito netting over infant carriers when outdoors.
Fix torn window and door screens.
Consider staying inside at dawn, dusk and early evening, the peak mosquito-biting times.
The CDC also recommends that at least once a week, empty any standing water in your yard. Discard tires or items that could collect water.
These are not major inconveniences.
They are common-sense precautions.
And they could save your life, or the life of someone you love.