5 West Nile cases in Lake County
The number of people with West Nile virus in Lake County now stands at five according to the Health Department. | Sun-Times Media file
Updated: October 24, 2012 10:04PM
The Lake County Health Department says five residents have contracted West Nile virus.
A 60-year-old Mundelein man is the most recent Lake County resident to test positive for West Nile virus. The other cases involve a 68-year-old Buffalo Grove man, a 65-year-old Grayslake woman, a 42-year-old Libertyville woman and a 69-year-old Lake Zurich man.
For much of this summer the health department was tracking ahead of the count in 2005, which saw the greatest number of human cases, bird reports and positive pool reports. That year, 167 mosquito pools, 12 birds, and 11 people tested positive for the illness and one death occurred.
While most people infected with West Nile virus have no symptoms of illness, some may become ill three to 15 days after the bite of an infected mosquito. The virus may occasionally cause serious complications. In some individuals, particularly the elderly, the virus can cause muscle weakness, inflammation of the brain (encephalitis), stiff neck, stupor, disorientation, tremors, convulsions, paralysis, coma or death.
Besides the five human cases so far, there were 81 batches of mosquitoes and three birds testing positive for the virus. The health department urges people to take precautions against mosquito bites.
“Although it is September, it is just as important to wear insect repellent now as it was during the summer months,” said Irene Pierce, the health department’s executive director.
“You can best protect yourself and your family against West Nile virus by following the three R’s - reduce your exposure to mosquitoes, repel them by wearing insect repellent, and report areas where mosquitoes typically breed,” she said.
The mosquitoes that carry West Nile virus are commonly called the house mosquito, which breed in quiet pools of water with organic material. During the drought this summer those type of mosquitoes were breeding more successfully than the typical flood water mosquito.
Other recommendations to prevent mosquito breeding include getting rid of water in old tires, buckets, drums, plant dishes and bird baths. Poke holes in tires used as bumpers on docks and keep gutters cleared.
Empty plastic wading pools at least once a week and store indoors when not in use and drain unused swimming pools.
Whenever possible, limit outdoor activity at dusk. When going out wear light-colored clothing that minimizes exposed skin and provides some protection from mosquito bites. Apply insect repellent that includes DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or IR 3535 according to label instructions. Consult a physician before using repellents on infants.
To report dead birds, areas of stagnant water, or to obtain more information on the signs and symptoms of West Nile encephalitis, call the Health Department’s West Nile virus hot line at (847) 377-8300.