Tests on mosquitoes have revealed the presence of West Nile Virus for the first time this year in Lake County in Northern Illinois. The first batch that test positive in Illinois in 2018 was in Glenview and Morton Grove in Cook County on May 25, 2018.
The Lake County health department reports the tests were done on mosquitoes collected June 28, 2018 in Highland Park. Currently there are no reports of people contracting the virus this year in Lake County. Last year, 104 batches of mosquitoes and one bird tested positive for West Nile Virus. Since 2002, there have been 64 confirmed cases in humans in Lake County. Two cases were fatal.
The first cases of infected humans often begin in late June. Monitoring for West Nile virus in Illinois includes laboratory tests for mosquito batches, dead crows, blue jays, robins and other perching birds, as well as testing humans with West Nile virus-like symptoms. Human testing for West Nile Virus takes about 4-5 days for a confirmation.
People who observe a sick or dying crow, blue jay, robin or other perching bird should contact their local health department, which will determine if the bird will be picked up for testing.
Most people infected with the virus show little or no symptoms, but some develop symptoms such as high fever and nausea or life-threatening symptoms, such as respiratory arrest. West Nile Virus can also cause brain damage, and damage to the nervous system.
The moderate illness that is caused by WNV is known as West Nile fever. Common symptoms of West Niles Virus (WNV) infection include fever, nausea, vomiting, headache and muscle aches. Some or all of these symptoms affect about 20 percent of people infected, and may last from a few days to a few weeks. However, about 80 percent of people infected with West Nile virus do not have any symptoms, and is a big part of the reason that WNV is under-reported.
The severe illness that is caused by WNV is known as West Nile neuroinvasive disease (WNND). Severe illnesses related to WNV infection include meningitis (WNM), encephalitis (WNE), West Nile meningoencephalitis (inflammation of both the brain and meninges), and West Nile poliomyelitis (WNP). Least common is WNP, which is characterized by the acute onset of asymmetric limb weakness or paralysis in the absence of sensory loss. Pain sometimes precedes the paralysis, which can occur in the absence of fever, headache, or other common symptoms associated with WNV infection. Involvement of respiratory muscles, leading to acute respiratory failure is possible.
The severe forms often require life support in an Intensive Care Unit (ICU). There is no specific cure for the severe illnesses, but life support with oxygen, mechanical respiration support and nutrition are required while patients are in a near coma state. Although rare, severe WNV infections can cause unstable gait, high fever with rapid breathing, low oxygen levels, respiratory arrest, severe tremors, brain damage and death.
The Illinois Department of Public Health recommend THREE R’s to protecting against mosquito bites that can cause WNV infection.
• REDUCE: Make sure doors and windows have tight-fitting screens. Inspect screens and repair or replace screens that have tears or other openings. Try to keep doors and windows shut.
Standing water risk reduction includes eliminating or refreshing standing water each week, all sources of standing water where mosquitoes can breed, including water in bird baths, ponds, flowerpots, buckets left outside, wading pools and old tires.
• REPEL: For best protection 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. Consult a physician before using repellents on infants.
• REPORT: Notify officials about locations where water is sitting stagnant for more than a week, such as roadside ditches and flooded yards. The local city or village health department or government may have the ability to add larvicide to the water, which will kill any mosquito eggs and larvae.
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West Nile virus is primarily transmitted by mosquitoes, mostly species of the genus Culex, but mosquitoes and ticks have also been found to carry the virus. Aedes albopictus bite diverse host species enabling the Asian tiger mosquito to be a potential bridge vector for certain pathogens such as West Nile virus.
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