Recent Highland Park Discovery of Mosquitoes with West Nile Virus Follows Early Human Case in West-Central Illinois

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A mosquito pool (or batch of mosquitoes) sampled June 23, 2016 in Highland Park has tested positive for West Nile virus. The mosquito pool is the first confirmed indicator of the disease’s presence in Lake County in 2016. In 2015, five human cases of West Nile virus were reported in Lake County. In addition, 68 pools or batches of mosquitoes and one bird tested positive for the virus.

“This is the time of year when we begin to see mosquito pools testing positive for West Nile virus,” said Mark Pfister, the Health Department’s interim Executive Director. “Now that hot summer weather is finally here, it is especially important to protect yourself against mosquito bites by following the four D’s – Drain: regularly empty water from outdoor containers; Dress: cover skin by wearing long sleeved shirts and pants; Dawn and Dusk: stay indoors during early evening and morning hours; and Defend: use insect repellent that contains DEET.”

The Health Department maintains a West Nile virus hotline for county residents to report areas of stagnant water (which are conducive for mosquito breeding), or to obtain more information on the signs and symptoms of West Nile encephalitis. The West Nile hotline number is: (847) 377-8300. Information can also be found at:

Recommendations to prevent mosquito breeding include:

Discard old tires, buckets, drums or any water holding containers. Poke holes in tires used as bumpers on docks
Keep roof gutters and downspouts clear of debris
Keep trash containers covered
Empty plastic wading pools at least once a week and store indoors when not in use
Drain unused swimming pools
Fill in tree rot holes and hollow stumps that hold water
Change the water in bird baths and plant urns at least once a week
Store boats upside down or drain rainwater weekly
Recommendations to prevent mosquito bites include:

Whenever possible, limit outdoor activity at dusk
Wear light-colored clothing that minimizes exposed skin and provides some protection from mosquito bites

Make sure door and window screens fit tightly and that all holes are repaired

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.

Most people infected with WNV have no symptoms of illness, but some may become ill or seriously ill. The West Nile Virus infection with illness can cause death or serious disability with brain damage.

Incubation onset of symptoms is usually three to 15 days after the bite of an infected mosquito. In some individuals, especially the elderly, the virus can cause muscle weakness, inflammation of the brain (encephalitis), stiff neck, stupor, disorientation, tremors, convulsions, paralysis, coma and death. Individuals that suffer serious symptoms require a long recovery.

West Nile Virus was positively tested in mosquitoes last week in Evanston, Illinois just south of Highland Park. The North Shore Mosquito Abatement District collected the positive batch of insects Wednesday June 22, 2016. Mosquitoes in Glenview, Kenilworth and Skokie have also tested positive for West Nile Virus this year.

The first human case of West Nile Virus in 2016 was reported in late May after a child in west-central Illinois became very ill, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health. The 2016 illness marks an early case compared to other years. In 2015 the first WNV case was on August 19, 2015. Human cases of WNV infection usually begin in late July and August.

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