The dry, hot weather created the perfect breeding environment for mosquitoes carrying the West Nile virus. The virus is widespread around the area in mosquitoes known to carry the virus.
Now, officials with the DuPage County Health Department are reinforcing the need for residents to take extra care to protect themselves from mosquito bites.
At this time last year there was only one positive test for West Nile virus, according to a news release from the DuPage County Health Department. Today, the department reports 89 mosquito pools have tested positive for the virus so far this summer.
The was reported on May 18 this year, compared to July 15 last year, the department said in a news release.
that the virus was found in some mosquitoes trapped in earlier in July.
for mosquitoes July 24.
West Nile virus is transmitted to people from the bite of a mosquito, which gets the virus from biting an infected bird. The Culex mosquitoes are the main carriers of West Nile virus.
In the United States, most people are infected from June through September, and the number of these infections usually peaks in mid-August, according to the news release.
Roughly one in five people who become infected with the virus develop symptoms such as fever, headache, body aches, joint pains, vomiting, diarrhea, or rash, the health department said. Less than 1 percent will develop a serious neurologic illness such as encephalitis or meningitis. People over 50 and those with certain medical conditions, such as cancer, diabetes, hypertension, kidney disease, and organ transplants, are at greater risk for serious illness.
The DuPage County Health Department offers these tips for the best way to avoid mosquito bites and prevent West Nile virus:
- Use insect repellents when you go outdoors.
- Wear long sleeves and pants during dawn and dusk.
- Install or repair screens on windows and doors. Use air conditioning, if you have it.
- Empty standing water from items outside your home such as flowerpots, buckets and kiddie pools.
Treating West Nile virus:
There are no medications to treat, or vaccines to prevent, West Nile virus infection, the health department said. People with milder illnesses typically recover on their own, although symptoms may last for several weeks. Sever cases may require hospitalization so patients receive supportive treatments, such as intravenous fluids, pain medication and medical care. Anyone with symptoms that cause concern should contact a health care provider.
Downers Grove residents who are interested in monitoring West Nile virus in the area may find an interactive map displaying the various incidents of positive and negative findings. The map of mosquito traps found throughout the county will be updated as mosquitoes test positive for West Nile virus, the health department said.
Written by Mary Ann Lopez