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County Health Agency Warns of West Nile Dangers

Virus confirmed in some Cook suburbs.

After finding evidence of West Nile Virus in the area, the Cook County Department of Public Health is advising residents to wear mosquito repellent and to dump any standing water on their property, include small stagnant pools pets' water bowls, baby pools, old tires, flower pots or other containers.

The department's testing of mosquito pools for West Nile Virus came up positive in Glenview and Norridge. Positive evidence of the disease also turned up in Oak Lawn and Evergreen Park.

The department said the number of disease-carrying mosquitoes is expected to rise throughout the summer months, especially during the hot, dry conditions of the past few days.

“The Culex mosquito, the primary carrier of WNV in our region, breeds in small pools of stagnant water during hot dry weather,” CCDPH chief operating officer Stephen A. Martin, Jr. said in a statement.

“Residents are likely to have standing water around their homes from all the rain we experienced in May and June. That standing water is a potential breeding ground for these mosquitoes; residents need to be aware of this risk and take basic precautions to prevent becoming infected with WNV.”

The department's tips for avoiding the disease include:

  • Get rid of standing water around your home in pet bowls, flower pots, old tires, baby pools and toys. Water that is allowed to stagnate for three or four days becomes a breeding ground for mosquitoes.
  • Make sure your doors and windows have tightly fitting screens and repair any tears or other openings.
  • Keep weeds and grass cut short and keep gutters clean and free of debris.
  • When outdoors between dusk and dawn, cover skin with lightly colored clothing and use mosquito repellent with DEET, picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus. Always follow the directions on the label.

 

Most people infected with WNV have no symptoms of illness and never become ill, according to the department. But illness can occur 3-15 days after an infected mosquito bite and cause symptoms of fever, headache and body aches.

The disease can affect all ages, but people over the age of 50 and those with chronic disease, such as heart disease or cancer may be at risk for serious complications from encephalitis or meningitis. For that reason, people who experience high fever, confusion, muscle weakness, severe headaches, or a stiff neck should see a doctor immediately.

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