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Evanstonian has West Nile Virus

The City of Evanston’s Department of Health and Human Services has confirmed that an Evanston resident has tested positive for West Nile Virus.

Health and Human Services staff warn community members to exercise caution while spending time outdoors and use preventive measures against mosquito bites.

"Residents need to be sure to check their properties for containers that have water collecting in them and pour the water out," said the department’s director, Evonda Thomas.

"Items such as paper cups, children’s toys, pet bowls, and pots for plants serve as mosquito breeding grounds," she added.

People over 50 years of age have the highest risk of contractive severe cases of the disease. Immune-compromised persons may be at increased risk.

Thomas recommends using insect repellent containing DEET, Picaridin, or Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus and contacting children’s doctors before using repellent on kids, and veterinarians before using repellent on animals.

Additionally, community members should cover up with long sleeves, long pants, shoes and socks, especially when they are out at dusk or dawn.

Other recommendations include mosquito proofing homes by making sure door and window screens are in good condition. Check yards weekly for standing water and dump any water that sits for more than five days.

Mosquitoes become infected with West Nile Virus when they feed on infected birds. The virus finds its way into the mosquito’s salivary glands where it may be injected into humans and animals.

It is estimated that 20 percent of the people who become infected will develop West Nile fever: mild symptoms, including fever, headache, and body aches, occasionally with a skin rash on the trunk of the body and swollen lymph glands.

The symptoms of a severe infection, West Nile encephalitis or meningitis, include headache, high fever, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, and paralysis. It is estimated that 1 in 150 persons infected with the West Nile Virus will develop a more severe form of the disease.

Residents who observe stagnant water are asked to call the Health and Human Services Department at (847) 866-2969.

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