A mosquito sample has tested positive for West Nile virus in Will County, making it the third such batch in the county to test positive for the virus this year.
This most recent sample was collected from a trap near the Sunny Hill Nursing Home in southwest suburban Joliet, the Will County Health Department said. The first two were collected in the southwest suburbs of Manhattan and Plainfield.
Will County joins DuPage and Cook Counties as those that have found mosquitoes that tested positive for West Nile this year, WCHD said. No human cases have been reported in Illinois so far.
In 2018, four human cases were reported in Will County and 176 were reported around the state — 17 of which were fatal, according to WCHD and the Illinois Department of Public Health.
The appearance of the virus is due to the recent wet weather, which has led to flooding and standing water, WCHD said. When the weather dries up, the virus will have the potential to spread more dangerously as culex mosquitoes, which transport the virus from infected birds to humans, look for sources of standing water in which to lay their eggs.
“People need to get in the habit right now of cleaning out their gutters and rain barrels, changing the water in their birdbaths and kiddie pools, and getting rid of old tires and garbage, or even empty soda cans that collect standing water,” WCHD sanitarian Kyle Moy said. “When the wetness from the rain dries up, the culex mosquitos especially will look for sources like that to keep laying their eggs.”
West Nile virus symptoms are similar to those of the flu, and can include fever, headache, body aches and swollen lymph nodes, WCHD said. Seniors, young children and people with weakened immune systems are particularly at risk.
Moy said that many people ask if keeping a “bat house” on their property could help keep them free of mosquitoes, but he advises against it.
“For one thing, you have the rabies risk when bats are around,” Moy said. “But also, even though they are known to eat mosquitos, that is not what bats like best. They are more interested in eating moths or larger bugs.”
Instead, people can wear light-colored, long-sleeved clothing to protect from mosquitoes and use insect repellent that contains DEET, WCHD said.