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How to Protect Yourself from West Nile Virus this Summer

The disease is being reported earlier this year because of the unseasonably warm weather. Therefore, precaution should be taken now.

Mosquitos collected from nearby Hinsdale, Clarendon Hills and Lisle They also were found in Woodridge and Westmont, and Lemont and Norridge in Cook County.

The Health Department has notified those communities, according to a DuPage County Health Department release. The Health Department does not spray for mosquitoes; mosquito prevention is done by municipalities or mosquito abatement districts.

The positive mosquitoes are being reported earlier than usual this year due to the warm weather conditions, according to the release. West Nile Virus is weather dependent, so early positives were expected. 

No human cases of WNV have been reported in DuPage County so far in 2012.

DuPage County residents who want to track WNV in their communities may visit http://maps.google.comdchdsurveillancemap. This map of mosquito traps throughout the county will be updated as mosquitoes test positive for WNV.  

The Health Department is collecting freshly-dead birds (such as crows or blue jays) for WNV testing. The birds must not show any signs of decay or trauma. To report a dead bird, call 630-682-7400.

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 15 days after the bite of an infected mosquito. 

Only about two people in 10 who are bitten by an infected mosquito will experience any illness. Illness from WNV is usually mild and includes fever, headache and body aches, but serious illness, such as encephalitis, meningitis, and death are possible. Individuals over the age of 50 have the highest risk of severe disease.

The best way to prevent WNV 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 practicing the three “Rs”—reduce, repel and report: 

  • REDUCE exposure—Avoid being outdoors when mosquitoes are most active, especially between dusk and dawn.  

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 where mosquitoes can breed, including water in bird baths, ponds, flowerpots, wading pools, old tires and any other receptacles. 

  • REPEL—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, according to label instructions.  Consult a physician before using repellents on infants.
  • REPORT—In communities where there are organized mosquito control programs, contact your municipal government to report areas of stagnant water in roadside ditches, flooded yards and similar locations that may produce mosquitoes.

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