What to Know
- Recent testing has shown a surge in infected mosquitoes along the North Shore
- The agency says the positive tests are a reliable indicator of risk level for humans to contract the virus
- Increased spraying will take place to try to control infected populations
A recent surge in infected mosquitoes has authorities concerned about the potential for a West Nile outbreak in the northern suburbs this summer.
According to the North Shore Mosquito Abatement District, there has been a rapid increase in infected mosquitoes in testing performed over the last week. That data shows the highest increase in mosquito carriers since the 2012 outbreak that sickened hundreds of Illinois residents.
“This indicator is a fairly good predictor of the risk to humans,” NSMAD Executive Director Mark Clifton said.
According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, there have been four lab-confirmed cases of West Nile so far this year.
Even with that number, the department is urging residents to take proper precautions to protect against the virus, which can cause high fever, headaches, disorientation, tremors, and even convulsions.
In severe cases, found in those with weak or compromised immune systems, the virus can cause paralysis or even death.
“Use an EPA approved repellant, and wear proper clothing so you don’t have exposed skin,” Clifton said. “Avoid dusk and dawn, as those are the times that mosquitoes that carry West Nile are most active.”
The IDPH also recommends that residents avoid having standing water, such as that in buckets or unmaintained pools, on their properties so that mosquitoes have fewer places to breed.
The abatement district says it is spraying in 14 municipalities along the North Shore, and that next week they will increase those efforts to try to control the infected populations.