The Illinois Department of Public Health has confirmed a positive test for West Nile Virus from a pool of mosquitoes in Evanston.


The Illinois Department of Public Health has confirmed a positive test for West Nile Virus from a pool of mosquitoes in Evanston.

“The Evanston Health and Human Service Department learned of the positive test today,” said Evonda Thomas, the city’s health and human services director.

“The positive test is not unexpected. West Nile Virus surveillance activity has been present in Evanston since the fall of 2001. This positive report should serve as a reminder to residents to take precautions to protect themselves against mosquitoes,” Thomas added

Surveillance for West Nile Virus in Illinois began on May 1 and includes laboratory tests on mosquitoes, dead crows, blue jays, robins and other perching birds.

Citizens who observe a sick or dying crow, blue jay, robin or other perching bird should contact the Evanston Health and Human Services Department at 847-866-2948. The department can determine if the bird needs to be picked up for testing.

The West Nile Virus is 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 fifteen days after the bite of an infected mosquito.

“Only about two in ten individuals who are bitten by an infected mosquito will experience any illness,” Thomas said. “Illness from West Nile Virus is usually mild and includes fever, headache and body aches. But serious illness, such as encephalitis and meningitis, and death are also possible.“ Persons older than 50 years of age are at the highest risk of severe disease.

The best way to prevent the West Nile Virus or any other mosquito-borne illness is to reduce the number of mosquitoes around your home and to take personal precautions to avoid mosquito bites.

Precautions include:

  • Avoid being outdoors when mosquitoes are most active, especially between dusk and dawn and use prevention methods whenever mosquitoes are present;
  • When outdoors, wear shoes and socks, long pants and a long-sleeved shirt, and apply insect repellent that includes DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or IR 3535 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; and
  • 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.

Evanston is part of the North Shore Mosquito Abatement District and works with that agency to control the mosquito population.

Residents are urged to contact the Evanston Health and Human Services Department at 847-866-2948 to report areas of stagnant water in roadside ditches, flooded yards and similar locations that may produce mosquitoes.

More information is available on the city’s website.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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