MORRIS – Those swarming, sucking mosquitoes just got a little more dangerous, as a test on mosquitoes from the health department confirms West Nile in Grundy County.
The Grundy County Health Department recently collected mosquitoes in Braceville that tested positive, Grundy County Director for Environmental Health Mike Boyle said.
This is Grundy County’s first positive pool this year, an improvement over last summer. Last year, the health department had 24 mosquito pools test positive for West Nile Virus through the course of the summer.
“Last summer, we had our first positive test no later than early July,” Boyle said.
The risk could increase, however, as late summer weather arrives in Grundy County.
The health department anticipates detecting more positive mosquito pools as the summer wears on, increasing the risk of disease transmission to the public, Boyle said.
He encouraged all residents to be cautious and avoid becoming a victim of the sometimes-lethal virus.
An important prevention technique is eliminating any pools of standing water around your home, Boyle said.
Flowerpots, wading pools, old tires, bird feeders and other receptacles can become perfect breeding grounds for the pesky creatures.
Boyle suggested replacing water frequently to avoid a major mosquito infestation.
“The type of mosquito that carries West Nile virus is going to breed in water-holding devices that are commonly around the house,” Boyle said. “If it gets a little dirty or gets some organic matter that is a little less than pure, that creates a nice environment for the eggs.”
Residents can reduce exposure to the virus by avoiding the outdoors when mosquitoes are most active – between dusk and dawn.
When outdoors, the Illinois Department of Public Health recommends wearing shoes, socks, long pants and a long-sleeved shirt.
The IDPH also suggests applying insect repellent containing DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or IR 3535, all effective deterrents.
“The swarms of mosquitoes that are biting during the mid-day when the sun is shining, the more aggressive biters, those are not so strongly associated to West Nile” Boyle said. “While very annoying, those aren’t the ones we’re as concerned about.”
Reporting stagnant water in roadside ditches, flooded yards and similar locations that may produce mosquitoes to the health department is crucial in keeping the problem under control, says the IDPH.
West Nile infections may cause a slight fever or headache. More severe infections are marked by a rapid onset of a high fever with head and body aches, disorientation, tremors, convulsions and – in the most severe cases – paralysis or death.
The IDPH estimates symptoms will start to appear about 14 days after the infection, or time of the bite.
KNOW MORE For information regarding West Nile Virus, contact the Grundy County Health Department at 815-941-3115.