Lake County, Ill. — The Lake County Health Department and Community Health Center is reporting the first human case of West Nile virus in Lake County for 2021. A Deerfield resident in his 70s became ill in late-July.
“Take precautions to protect yourself from mosquito bites and West Nile virus,” said Mark Pfister, the Health Department’s Executive Director. “Even as the weather gets cooler, mosquitoes will remain active until the first hard frost.”
To date, 85 pools or batches of mosquitoes have tested positive for West Nile virus in 2021.
Practice the “4 Ds of Defense” to protect yourself and your family from mosquitoes:
Drain: Drain standing water from items around your home, yard, and business.
Defend: When outdoors, use an insect repellent containing DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, 2-undecanone, or IR3535 and reapply according to label directions.
Dawn and Dusk: Protect yourself all day and night, and wear repellent outdoors during these prime times for mosquito activity.
Dress: Wear long sleeves, pants, and closed toe shoes when outdoors to cover your skin.
Most people infected with West Nile virus have no symptoms of illness. However, some may become ill usually 3 to 15 days after the bite of an infected mosquito. Common symptoms include fever, nausea, headache, and muscle aches. In some individuals, severe illness including meningitis or encephalitis (or both), or even death, can occur. People older than 50 years and individuals with weakened immune systems are at higher risk for severe illness from West Nile virus.
Brain damage is possible among the most seriously ill, involving significant adjustments to lifestyle and capabilities in activities of daily living for years following the infection.
The illness that is caused by WNV is known as West Nile fever, which includes the symptoms of fever, nausea, vomiting, headache and muscle aches. Some or all of these symptoms affect about 20 percent of people infected. However, about 80 percent of people infected with West Nile virus do not have any symptoms, and this is a big part of the reason that WNV is under-reported.
The rare 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; which involves 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 may be 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.
During treatment in an Intensive Care Unit, patients with severe infections are often treated with Propofol — a creamy white, intravenous anesthetic. Propofol is informally known as “milk of amnesia” referring to the intravenous treatment whereby patients don’t “experience” or recall the difficult treatment protocol associated with intubation and mechanical respiration support associated with the severe, life-threatening symptoms. Although therapeutically useful, propofol and other intravenous or inhaled anesthetics are suspected of being toxic to the brains of the very young and very old.
For those who survive serious cases of West Nile virus infections, prolonged physical therapy and rehabilitation is often necessary, including re-learning how to swallow for those who have had their airway intubated for a prolonged period.
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. West Nile virus (WNV) is usually transmitted through the bite of a Culex pipiens mosquito, commonly called a house mosquito, that has picked up the virus by feeding on an infected bird. Also, Aedes albopictus (Asian Tiger Mosquito) bite diverse host species enabling the Asian tiger mosquito to be a potential bridge vector for certain pathogens such as West Nile virus.
Culex pipiens mosquitoes, which are the primary carriers of West Nile virus, are most abundant when the weather is hot. Residents can help prevent these mosquitoes from breeding by eliminating areas of stagnant water from their properties. Items like buckets, gutters and plant containers, kiddie pools, and any other items holding water around homes and businesses can become breeding sites.
The Lake County Health Department’s Mosquito Surveillance Program coordinates mosquito trapping results throughout Lake County. Mosquitoes are tested weekly for West Nile virus. The program also monitors reports of dead birds (an early sign of the presence of the virus) and investigates areas of stagnant water for the presence of mosquito larvae, specifically from the Culex mosquito, which is the primary carrier of West Nile in Illinois.
Find more prevention tips and information on West Nile virus at www.FightTheBiteNow.com. Residents can also call the Health Department’s West Nile hotline to report areas of stagnant water, report locations of dead birds, and obtain more information on the signs and symptoms of West Nile virus. The Lake County West Nile virus hotline number is 847-377-8300.
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