Batch of mosquitoes in Lake County tests positive for West Nile virus
A batch of mosquitoes sampled June 16 in Lake Bluff has tested positive for West Nile virus, the first confirmed indicator of the virus' presence in Lake County this year, county health authorities said Wednesday.
"As we approach the summer season, our time outdoors increases, and so does our exposure to mosquitoes," Mark Pfister, executive director of the Lake County Health Department and Community Health Center, said in the announcement. "Please remember to 'Fight the Bite' and protect yourself and your family from mosquitoes that may carry West Nile virus."
The health department's Mosquito Surveillance Program coordinates mosquito trappings throughout the county and tests batches weekly for West Nile. The program 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 mosquito larvae, specifically from the Culex mosquito, which is the primary carrier of West Nile in Illinois.
In 2020, 93 batches tested positive for the virus. Since 2002, there have been 73 confirmed human cases of West Nile in Lake County, including four confirmed deaths.
"While the hot, dry weather results in fewer mosquitoes overall, the Culex mosquitoes that cause West Nile virus are still present," said Michael Adam, the health department's deputy director of environmental health. "The years with the most cases of West Nile virus have often been during hot, dry summers."
To protect yourself, health officials recommend you drain standing water from items around homes, yards, and businesses; use an insect repellent containing DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, 2-undecanone, or IR3535; and dress in long sleeves, pants and closed-toe shoes when outdoors to cover your skin.
Most people infected with West Nile have no symptoms, but some become ill, typically three to 15 days after the bite. Common symptoms include fever, nausea, headache and muscle ache. In some cases, severe illness including meningitis and encephalitis or even death can occur. People older than 50 and individuals with weakened immune systems are at higher risk.
For prevention tips and information on West Nile, visit www.fightthebitenow.com. Residents also can call the health department's West Nile hotline to report areas of stagnant water, locations of dead birds and obtain more information at (847) 377-8300.