A batch of mosquitoes collected in Wilmette on Friday tested positive for the West Nile Virus on June 26, according to the North Shore Mosquito Abatement District (NSMAD).
West Nile mosquitoes are out more than a month earlier in Wilmette than in 2011, when the first pool tested positive in August, according to Dave Zazra, communications manger for NSMAD.
On June 18, mosquitoes in Evanston were the first to test positive for the virus among the 13 communities NSMAD manages. Illinois has reported 17 batches of mosquitoes that tested positive for virus so far this year, according to CBS Chicago.
West Nile Virus Likes Hot, Dry Weather
The hot and dry weather are two factors promoting the virus and the mosquitoes’ development.
“The hot weather decreases the time from egg to flying adult and also the virus replicates faster in this hot weather,” Zazra said.
Outbreaks of the disease are particularly common in northern Cook County, because the climate is ideal for the Culex mosquitoes or “house mosquito” that carries West Nile Virus, Zazra said.
House mosquitoes likes hot, dry weather consistently above 85 degrees, they like to breed close to people’s homes and the smallest amount of standing water possible, he said.
In 2011, three human cases of West Nile Virus were found in Kenilworth, Glencoe and Northbrook, with one death, according to Zazra. The first human case occurred in Illinois in 2002, when the virus struck more than 800 individuals. It flared up again in 2005 and 2006, when the state recorded 252 cases and 12 deaths and 215 cases and 10 deaths, respectively.
NSMAD began testing mosquitoes in Wilmette for the virus in April and will continue to test mosquitoes throughout the summer, Zazra said.
According to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), roughly 80 percent of people infected by West Nile Virus do not show any symptoms. Milder symptoms, including fever, headache, body aches, nausea and vomiting, are common among the roughly 20 percent who do show symptoms.
While the vast majority of infected people show no symptoms, about one in 150 may develop severe symptoms. These can include high fever, disorientation, coma, muscle weakness, vision loss, numbness and paralysis, according to the CDC.
Adults older than 50 are more at risk of developing serious symptoms, and should be more cautious about avoiding mosquito bites.
When it comes to personal protection, health officials boil it down to two words: wear repellent.
“Residents should start taking precautions by wearing repellent around dusk and dawn, and loose light color clothing,” Zazra said. “Basically cover as much skin as possible.”
A complete list of tips to avoid mosquitoes from breeding on your property can be found on the North Shore Mosquito Abatement District website.