HAWTHORN WOODS, Ill. – The Lake County Health Department has reported that a batch of mosquitos sampled on June 4, 2020 in Hawthorn Woods has tested positive for West Nile virus. This mosquito pool is the first confirmed indicator of West Nile virus in Lake County this year. No human cases of West Nile have been reported, according to Hannah Goering, a Lake County Health Department spokesperson.
“We have pools of mosquitos test positive in Lake County every year. This year it happened earlier than what we normally expect, and we believe that could be due to having hot weather early this year. The Culex mosquitos thrive in this weather and like to breed in stagnant water,” said Goering.
The Culex mosquitos thrive in this weather and like to breed in stagnant waterHannah Goering, Lake County Health Department
In 2019, 61 pools or batches of mosquitos tested positive for West Nile virus. The county tests mosquitos weekly for West Nile virus.
“These mosquitos are common in Illinois and Lake County,” said Goering, “We expect that these mosquitos are throughout the county.” Goering emphasized that mosquitos found in one area likely affect all areas of the county.
Since 2002, there have been only seven cases of West Nile virus found in residents of Hawthorn Woods and Lake Zurich. However, there were no cases in 2019 and none so far this year.
“As we approach the summer season, our time outdoors increases, and so does our exposure to mosquitos,” said Mark Pfister, executive director, Lake County Health Department and Community Health Center. “Please remember to ‘Fight the Bite’ and protect yourself and your family from mosquitos that may carry West Nile virus.”
The Lake County Health Department’s Mosquito Surveillance Program coordinates mosquito trapping results throughout Lake County. The program also monitors reports of dead birds (an early sign of the presence of the virus) and investigates areas of stagnant water for the presence of mosquito larvae, specifically from the Culex mosquito, which is the primary carrier of West Nile in Illinois.
Mosquitos breed in stagnant water
Culex pipiens mosquitos, which are the primary carriers of West Nile virus, are most abundant when the weather is hot. Residents can help prevent these mosquitos from breeding by eliminating areas of stagnant water from their properties. Items like buckets, gutters and plant containers, kiddie pools, and any other items holding water around homes and businesses can become breeding sites.
Last year, 61 pools or batches of mosquitos tested positive for West Nile virus. Since 2002, there have been 73 confirmed human cases of West Nile virus in all of Lake County, as well as four confirmed deaths.
How to protect yourself
According to the Lake County Health Department, you can practice the “4 Ds of Defense” to protect yourself and your family from mosquitos:
- Drain: Drain standing water from items around your home, yard, and business.
- Defend: When outdoors, use an insect repellent containing DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, 2-undecanone, or IR3535 and reapply according to label directions.
- Dawn and Dusk: Protect yourself all day and night, and wear repellent outdoors during these prime times for mosquito activity.
- Dress: Wear long sleeves, pants, and closed toe shoes when outdoors to cover your skin.
Symptoms of West Nile
Most people infected with West Nile virus have no symptoms of illness. However, some may become ill usually 3 to 15 days after the bite of an infected mosquito. Common symptoms include fever, nausea, headache and muscle ache. In some individuals, severe illness including meningitis or encephalitis, or even death, can occur. People older than 50 and individuals with weakened immune systems are at higher risk for severe illness from West Nile virus.
For more information on West Nile virus and the signs and symptoms, visit www.FightTheBiteNow.com or call the Lake County Health Department’s West Nile hotline at (847) 377-8300.