Protect yourself and your family during West Nile Virus season

The first mosquito pools positive for West Nile Virus (WNV) in suburban Cook County were reported yesterday by state public health officials. Although the first pools were located in the communities of Lemont and Norridge, officials warn residents throughout suburban Cook County to take precautions. “West Nile Virus is not isolated to one community; all neighborhoods are at risk and residents need to be aware of its presence in suburban Cook County” said CCDPH interim chief operating officer, Sandra Martell, RN, DNP. “During hot dry weather the Culex mosquito, the primary carrier of West Nile Virus in our region, breeds in small pools of stagnant water. Water can easily accumulate around homes putting people at risk for infection if prevention measures are not put in place.” The most effective way to prevent against becoming infected with West Nile Virus is to follow these steps: Get rid of standing water around your home in pet bowls, flower pots, old tires, baby pools and toys. Water that is allowed to stagnate for three or four days becomes a breeding ground for mosquitoes. Make sure your doors and windows have tightly fitting screens and repair any tears or other openings. Keep weeds and grass cut short and keep gutters clean and free of debris. When outdoors between dusk and dawn, cover skin with lightly colored lose fitting clothing and use mosquito repellent with DEET, picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus. Always follow the directions on the label. CCDPH West Nile Virus surveillance is conducted between May 1 and Oct 1 to identify mosquitoes, birds and humans positive for the disease. Mosquitoes may transmit the virus to humans after feeding on a bird infected with West Nile Virus. Residents are asked to call (708) 633-8025 to report a dead perching bird such as a blue jay or a robin so it can be picked up and tested for West Nile Virus. Most people infected with West Nile Virus have no symptoms of illness and never become ill. But illness can occur 3-15 days after an infected mosquito bite and cause symptoms of fever, headache and body aches. People over the age of 50 are at a higher risk for serious complications from encephalitis or meningitis. For that reason, people who experience high fever, confusion, muscle weakness, severe headaches, or a stiff neck should see a doctor immediately. For more information please visit,