Take basic precautions to prevent West Nile virus this summer

Submitted By Kimberley Conrad | Cook County Department of Public Health

Cook County Department of Public Health officials would like to remind residents to be cautious and protect against West Nile virus during the summer months.

Prevention is the most effective way to protect yourself and your family from becoming infected with WNV.

“We find West Nile virus in our communities every year,” said Dr. Terry Mason, CCDPH COO. “For some who become infected, it can be very debilitating, so we are encouraging residents to Fight the Bite and take basic precautions to prevent mosquitoes from breeding or biting.”

WNV is an infection carried by the Culex mosquito, which breeds in small pools of stagnant water. They rest during the day in areas of vegetation but they are most active and likely to bite between the hours of dusk and dawn. The most effective way to prevent WNV is to follow the three R’s – Remove, Repel and Repair.

  • Remove standing water around your home. Get rid of standing water in pet bowls, flower pots, old tires, bird baths, baby pools and toys where mosquitoes can breed. And, make sure rain gutters drain properly.
  • Repel mosquitoes when outdoors by applying insect repellent with DEET and follow label directions.
  • Repair or replace screens on doors and windows.

Most human cases occur in the late summer and early fall. Four out of five people infected with WNV will not show any symptoms. But illness can occur three to 15 days after an infected mosquito bite and cause symptoms of fever, headache and body aches. People over the age of 50 and those with chronic diseases such as heart disease or cancer may be more at-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.

CCDPH conducts surveillance between May and October each year to identify mosquitoes, birds and humans positive for West Nile virus. To report a dead bird, please visit our website at www.fighthebitecookcounty.com.

CCDPH officials will continue to report West Nile virus activity throughout the season. For the most current information, visit www.fightthebitecookcounty.com and follow us on social media at Facebook/ccdph and Twitter/cookcohealth.

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