Biting, itching and scratching, it’s that time of year again, when mosquitos come out to play. But besides those pesky bites, they bring another threat.
“West Nile Virus arrived about 12 or 13 years ago, hence the name it came from Africa and the Nile River, it is carried by mosquitos. We go through next few weeks and months, we fully expect well go through those hot dry spells and that amplifies the West Nile Virus in the environment,” said Dave Hass, Public Information Officer with the DuPage County Health Department.
Illinois already has two confirmed cases of the virus in mosquitos, in Southern and Central Illinois. But with the warmer weather approaching from the South, those cases are expected to spread to our area, prompting local control groups to take action.
“We have technicians that monitor the mosquito population, every week they set out 16 traps, they bring those in, they count populations so we can monitor nuisance level and we also test for West Nile,” said Christine Schwartzhoff, Operations Team Leader with the Public Works Department in Naperville.
Both Naperville and county level officials agree the first step in protecting yourself from risk is to clear any standing water from your home, which is where West Nile infected mosquitos tend to breed.
“If you have bird baths, just make sure that it gets stirred up, clean our gutters, that breeds mosquitos. Flood water mosquitos don’t carry the diseases, it’s the one in the standing water that we pay close attention to,” said Schwartzhoff.
Just three years ago, the virus reached its peak in our area, with 56 cases and 5 deaths in DuPage County. Since then, the numbers have dwindled, but mosquitoes at local parks have continued to test positive for the virus.
While protection is important, health officials remind us not to panic, as only one in five infected will develop symptoms, which for the majority, are mild.
“Healthy people could even be bitten by a culex carrying West Nile, just get a headache, and can just go away from it in a day or two, so it’s something that can be very minor, maybe even less than a flu or a cold, but it is something that does bother a lot of people,” said Hass.
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