mosquito

Evanston’s Health Department reports that a 57-year-old resident of Evanston has been confirmed to have the West Nile virus based on a laboratory test by the state health department.

It’s the first West Nile case in Evanston this year and the third so far in the state.

West Nile virusis transmitted through the bite of a mosquito that has picked up the virus by feeding on an infected bird. Most people with the virus have no clinical symptoms of illness, but some may become ill three to 15 days after the bite of an infected mosquito.

Illness from WNV is usually mild and includes fever, headache and body aches, but serious illness, such as encephalitis and meningitis, and death, are possible. Persons older than 50 years of age have the highest risk of severe disease.

Evanston Health Director Evonda Thomas says residents should take preventive measures to reduce the spread of the disease.

“The best way to prevent West Nile disease, or any other mosquito-borne illness, is to reduce the number of mosquitoes around your home.”

Check yards “to look for any standing water. Bird baths, gutters or children’s toys might collect water and serve as a breeding ground for mosquitos. Prevention is the best means of attacking West Nile virus,” Thomas says.

Preventative measures include:

  • Avoid being outdoors when mosquitoes are most active, especially between dusk and dawn.
  • When outdoors, wear shoes and socks, long pants and a long-sleeved shirt and apply insect repellent that contains DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or IR 3535. Use according to label instructions. Consult a physician before using repellents on infants.
  • Make sure doors and windows have tight-fitting screens. Repair or replace screens that have tears or other openings. Try to keep doors and windows shut, especially at night.
  • Eliminate all sources of standing water that can support mosquito breeding, including water in bird baths, ponds, flowerpots, wading pools, old tires and any other receptacles. Contact the North Shore Mosquito Abatement District at www.nsmad.com or  847/446-9434 to report areas of stagnant water in roadside ditches, flooded yards and similar locations that may produce mosquitoes.

Public health officials have indicated that this year’s hot, dry summer weather increases mosquito activity and the risk of disease from West Nile virus.

Additional information about West Nile virus can be found on the Illinois Department of Public Health’s website and the Evanston Health Department’s website or by calling 3-1-1.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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